Lessons Learned

Posted on April 13, 2009 by ELCA World Hunger

My Lenten fast from meat ended on Saturday night with the Easter Vigil (Alleluia!). It is one of the only Lenten disciplines I can remember that ended with a strong sense of relief. Relief because I did not have to think so hard any more about what to eat. Relief because my wife and son and I could now eat the same meals for dinner. Relief because I could finish all my son’s uneaten scraps.

When I began the journey, I hoped to use the fast to be in solidarity with those who never get to eat meat and to learn how I could eat less meat. I think that both of these happened to a certain extent.

In general, I found that I was hungry more often (carbs and greens don’t burn as long) and therefore ate more frequently (even breakfast!). I was pretty intentional to offer prayers for those who are truly hungry when I felt mild tinges of hunger.

As to finding new ways to eat less meat, echoing what Nancy wrote earlier, I was struck by how difficult it is in our culture to avoid meat. It was particularly hard when I was traveling–my usual meal was some form of a salad or pasta with red sauce. I also wasted so much more food–veggies just don’t keep as long as meat.

But I think the biggest lesson for me was how privileged I am. When I was hungry, I would eat more. When I bought the wrong veggie, I could buy a different one. When my veggies went bad in the fridge, I would toss them out and go to the store. Even that I could at the end of forty days (+ Sundays) I could simply choose to eat something else. And I felt relief that I could just move on. In this way, instead of feeling a sense of solidarity with those who are hungry, I realized my great distance from them. I realized that I still have much to learn about walking with people who are poor and vulnerable.

I would love to hear from you about your experiences this Lent. Feel free to comment or email me directly (david.creech@elca.org).

David Creech