Daily, I'm still reflecting on the lessons that I learned during that experience, and feel the need to share.For seven days, all we were allowed to eat each day was 2 cups of rice and a 1/2 cup of lentils or beans. We were allowed to drink juice and tea (which I took full advantage of). Each day, we would meet together to get our daily portion and lament the fact that we couldn't add any salt or spice or soy sauce. It was great to do this with others - to recognize the lessons that we were learning corporately...and to grieve the loss of variety.
I have to say that while I typically love rice and beans, I was not so much in love anymore. In fact, I would say that we were fighting, my rice and beans, and I. They tried to convince me that they were good and tasty...and I wasn't so convinced.
But here's the thing. I had planned on doing this fast, and not really talking about it...just going about daily life with less food, less flavour, and less variety. But, obviously I had to tell my housemates as we share meals together. And then, my co-workers, because we like to hang out and eat together. And then, my cousins, who invited me over for dinner. And then, other friends, like Maria, who had made chili and wanted me to come share it with her. How could I tell her "No!" And not explain??
And that's the funny part, which lead to Lesson #1. I realized how much we revolve our lives around food. It is no longer something that we know to be for survival. I would venture to say that in North America, for the majority, it is a recreational tool. We gather to eat. What good college event doesn't provide food? What do you do when someone invites you to their home? You probably bring food to share...and they probably have something waiting for you as well.
Lesson #2 also came in the college setting. I don't know HOW many people I have heard complain about the cafeteria food, myself included. I mean, after 6 years of living on campus, I was tired of the lack of variety...a rotation of "once a month". Variety is what we thrive on...is why we have the Food Channel and numerous talk shows touting advice on your menu for the night. When all you have is rice and beans every day, you start to realize that variety is a privilege...not a right.
Lesson #3 happened on day 4. I was sitting in chapel, and the college's President was sharing about his life. He shared how his wife and himself have recently become vegetarians, and then mentioned that he's learned to appreciate a good Veggie burger. Immediately, I thought, "oh, that sounds good. I should get one for lunch." I promptly recalled that thought - I already had my lunch for the day sitting in the staff fridge - one tupperware of rice and beans! Food is incredibly available to us. In Abbotsford, I can go anywhere within 10 minutes and find some ethnicity, some type of food, and ask someone to provide me with that food. It's that simple. I don't have to plant my grain, or water my crop, or pray for rain, or save my money to buy a cow that I could slaughter...it's all been done for me.
Needless to say, an experience like this one stays with you. I pray that it will continue to stay. I actually regret not trying it for the full two weeks that were presented to me. This coming month is the Rice Raiser here in Abbotsford...a local initiative to raise food and funds for both local and global feeding and teaching projects. While this has been something in my radar since September, I believe in it all the more since doing this fast. I encourage all of you to contact me if you want more info about any of this...I'm willing to spend time talking about this experience and about ways we can get involved in stopping hunger worldwide. It definitely is possible...but it involves us all giving a little...and recognizing that we have TONS.