For the first time in my life, I’m observing Lent. The idea started out as a suggestion for a way to lose weight before my trip (hence, the inclusion of this post on the Going to Russia again blog). The Russian Orthodox tradition is to fast for the 40 days prior to Easter, abstaining from all animal products as well as olive oil and wine. The exception is shellfish. The idea hearkens back to the diet in Paradise…and the acknowledgment that man’s original sin was the failure to abstain from a particular food. Supporting the choice to refrain from all meat, dairy and eggs (and anything containing them) is the parallel choice to show kindness, mercy and forgiveness to others during this season in preparation for celebrating Christ’s resurrection. The emphasis on the soul appealed to me. I especially resonated with this quote from St. John Chrysostom (a Russian saint), who said, “For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?”
The fast began the first Monday of March. The idea of eating a vegan diet gave me some cause for pause, at first. Then as I strolled the aisles of Spencers Fresh Market, I realized the store contained MUCH more that I could eat than I couldn’t. The choices were endless. And, thank you, dedicated vegans, for all of the soy products that make this fast not-at-all uncomfortable. In fact, so far, it’s been a delight. The right choice for me, for now.