24 February 2009

Carnivore of sorts

I'm definitely pretty omnivorous, though if you ask my family, they'll say the only thing I eat is salad (yes, but it has steak on it. See?) Right about now, I'm ready to slay the remainder of last night's kim chee, but that's balanced by the fact I'm making pancakes and bacon for dinner.

I know. I hear the question. But it's Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes. Use up all the rich stuff in the house before the fasting and abstinence of the Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday.

If you've read here long, you know that I was raised as a Roman Catholic, which to my mind is sort of a religion of its own, as in I-was-raised-as-a-Catholic-but-I-haven't-been-a-practicing-Catholic-for-a-really-really-long-time. My mother still dutifully prays for my return. Call me lapsed, but really, it goes well beyond lapsed. The Catholic that remains is basically cultural.

So that might be something of an explanation as to why I crave meat--I'm not just talking protein, I mean MEAT--right around February. Because I give it up for the most part (and always on Fridays) at Lent. It has nothing to do with religion. I don't believe that I will be struck down for eating a hamburger on a Lenten Friday. It has everything to do with habit, and the fact that I still find Lent fairly useful.

As a child, I always liked Lent, even though it is the most solemn and sad time in the Liturgical Year. It's a time of penitential preparation and meditation on the ultimate sacrifice, whereas Advent is a time of joyous preparation. Even as a kid, I found the Lenten season a very valuable way to take stock of myself and my circumstances and to be very damn glad that they weren't worse than they were. Most of us can find something for which to be grateful, and something that we can improve in ourselves.

So giving up meat is a small thing, and something that reminds me every time I go to the refrigerator to get some turkey for my interminable salad, that I live in luxury relative to a large number of people in the world. I am reminded to share my abundance with others, that what is a 40-day hardship for me, is a lifelong hardship for others. I am reminded to be grateful for what I have, that I have the ability to give something up.

Then there is that room-for-improvement part. I have been known to give up swearing for Lent. I have been known to give up other bad behaviours. Those sorts of "sacrifices" are a lot less easy than giving up meat.

I was amused to see that some people are making a big deal about giving up Facebook for Lent. I've been on Facebook for some time, and I've logged in maybe five times (yes, yes, and Twitter, and myspace, and Stumbleupon), so that wouldn't amount to much for me. I thought about giving up blogging for Lent, but that would make me happy...

(Okay, not really. Much.)

So tonight, pancakes and bacon. And mimosas. Tomorrow, austerity. The spouse doesn't know it yet, but even though he's a non-observant Protestant, that means Brussels sprouts for him.

Go listen to some good music: "Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)" from the EP Chronic Town by REM.

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