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Gut check: a new way to look at Lent

I had lunch today with a friend who when we met said, “I’m day-fasting.” Well, I thought, that’s fine: I’ll have to eat my proscuitto sandwich while he watches? What fun.

“Why?” I asked.

“It’s Lent.”

“Catholics day-fast?” I said, “I thought that was Muslims.”

He looked shocked, “I’m not Catholic. That’s not why I do it.” A bit odd, but nothing out of the way in the Berkshires. I’ve learned to wing it, with people’s food sensitivities and varied spiritual practices, and nothing surprises me much any more. But when we sat down, he said, “Have you ever been hungry? Or poor?”

Poor, yes. But hungry? When my kids were small, I scrapped nickels together to pay the rent. But we always had enough to eat, even if it was cornbread or oatmeal for breakfast, and vegetarian soup for lunch. Tears came to my eyes when I realized what my friend was doing when he fasts: he experiences something that is a part of everyday life for perhaps the majority of people on the planet. Now that’s a global perspective.

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