February 22, 2010

Lacto-Ovo Lent

A post in which I explain how I thought fish was not meat.

My Lenten radar is broken. In my youth, adolescence and young adulthood I had the pleasure of living within a dynamic Catholic community, both at home and at school. As a child I had the great pleasure of spending 10 years outside of New Orleans. As a university student I had the great privilege to attend the nation's finest Jesuit institution, Boston College, making Lenten promises of meatless Fridays and daily mass easy to maintain. However, adulthood and living in spiritually parched lands has put a distance between this SillyGirl and her liturgical calendar.

On the Friday before Lent I was reading a news article about the seven-year old samba captain choosen to dance at the front of a school in Rio, and it hit me. Carnival. Mardi Gras. Lent is coming. I could hardly believe that a year had gone by, and what a year of transformative change this has been! I knew that I wanted to choose a journey during these forty days that would challenge me. I wanted to force mindfulness. To more fully sacrifice. What could I possibly do?

I kept drawing a blank when it came to giving up. Not really a good start to being mindful. I did finally articulate my decision on Fat Tuesday. As ManInCharge and I finished the last of the Valentines sweets and shared a rather unconventional feast of steak and potatoes {not a pancake or King Cake in sight}, I decided that I would give up meat for Lent.

I was so impressed with my sacrifice {warning lights start flashing here} that I chose to inaugurate this 40 days of change with a bread and water fast on Ash Wednesday. I must admit that on the evening of Ash Wednesday, I was pretty exhausted and cranky. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed. Which I did at 6:30 in the evening.

However, due to my increased dietary restriction on Wednesday, the larger implication of my impromptu sacrifice was not fully revealed to me until Thursday. You see, as I said, I have been raised within the Catholic tradition. Abstaining from meat had always meant no beef, pork and chicken. Yet, as I was waking up on Thursday, I was struck by the remembrance of my promise to 'abstain from consuming flesh' during this Lenten season. {This is probably why we are taught that it is better to never make an oath than to make an oath and break it…not promising keeps you out of trouble.} I looked to Man and said, "Wait, fish is flesh…isn't it." He looked at me like I was a nut case and assured me that yes, seafood of all types {except seaweed…I suppose} is in fact flesh, no matter what his wife might assume.

So, here I am - an accidental vegetarian. I can admit that when I was choosing to give up meat on Fat Tuesday, I had not actually thought I wouldn't be eating fish. I think this makes me kind of dumb. Despite this gross miscalculation on my part, I am committed to making these 40 days of prayer and reflection a Lacto-Ovo Lenten journey.

Love,
SillyGirl

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