Lent begins next week. I’ve been spending a lot of time pondering what sort of spiritual discipline I should take on for Lent. For the last several years, I’ve been getting away from the give-something-up mode, as it’s somewhat artificial for me. I have little experience with spiritual disciplines as it is, and I tend to roll my eyes at the idea of “well, Jesus died on the cross, so I’ll give up chocolate.” Hey, good for you. Uh huh. Now that is of course, a very rough and cynical view of the idea, but let’s face it: it reflects the popular practice. Instead, I’m drawn to the idea that giving something up is done to make time and space for more connections to serve others. If you give up McDonalds, then donate what would have been spent in that time frame to a hunger charity, for example.
So to get outside the cynical cycle of commercialized “Lenten specials” (hey, in this season of “deprivation” come to our seafood buffet!), I have settled on an approach to a Lenten discipline that gets at the heart of the changes and spiritual process I am already in.
I already mentioned that this has to be the year I actually follow through on the beehive. So, part one of Lent will be taking the time to do the preparations needed for spring. But that won’t take 40 days. So, I thought, “what can I do to bring myself closer to the natural world of food, and connect to what has been created?” Instead of focusing on what I’ve already given up, why not find the joy in embracing what will feed me right? And thus, the title of this blog post: 40 Days, 40 Vegetables.
Each day in Lent, I will prepare a different “vegetable of the day.” Some will be those I already eat regularly, like asparagus, eggplant and brussels sprouts. Yes, it’s spelled brussels. Some will be vegetables that I have eaten before, but not often, like turnips and artichoke. I want the majority to come from the list of vegetables I’ve never made, like jicama, yuca root, and watercress. I won’t count any potatoes, except the yam. No beans either. Many will be root vegetables, but I’m not going to overload with starchy tubers or legumes. I start my day with spinach, onions, mushrooms, and enough garlic to kill the cast of True Blood, so those are off the vegetable of the day list too.
Lent is actually 40 days, plus the Sundays, which are feast days. That means we’ll have a weekly best-of selection on Sundays.
Eating food that comes from the ground should be obvious. But in America 2012, it’s a political decision. No one pays big bucks to advertise celery root on TV. None of the 17,000 “new” food products introduced each year are actually new food, just remanipulations of artificial flavors and one of the subsidized big five commodity crops, put in a box or bag. In a sea of that stuff, just eating some vegetables has become a spiritual experience. And it’s one I look forward to. Give up Little Debbie? Sure. But the word repent means to turn. Turning away from one thing means turning toward another. Come here kohlrabi, I’ve had my eye on you.