A Place at the Table: Day 16

Friday – I had to take my daughter, Mary, back to the doctor for a second Friday in a row. It looks like her double ear infection is back. So, shopping will most likely have to wait until tomorrow unless things at the doctor go quickly.

While having coffee this morning, I realized I left my bread and peanut butter at church. That created another wrinkle in the day’s plan.  I’d either need to forego breakfast or eat rice + chickpeas twice.  Since trips to the pediatrician’s are notorious for dragging out, I decided to double up.  The stir fried chickpeas and green beans were fantastic once more. I think I could eat this stuff just about everyday – fast or no fast.

My decision proved to be a wise.  The waiting room was packed and all the pediatricians seemed to be running behind.  It was after 12:30pm by the time we left.  For lunch, I treated my daughters to Wendy’s.  Mary deserved something special for being a good patient, and Emma was owed a treat for her superb behavior on Wednesday.   Wendy’s was their unanimous choice. (Emma informed the pediatrician’s receptionist that Wendy’s has better pickles than McDonald’s).  Watching the girls eat their cheeseburgers and fries was one of the more difficult things I have done while on this fast.  Wendy’s was a much more challenging environment than the diner had been in week one.  The smells were more pronounced, and the burgers came with bacon.  I LOVE bacon.  The girls gobbled up every finger-licking bite and ten had Frosties to boot.  There were moments I wasn’t sure I could resist a forbidden #2 combo – but, thankfully, I  made it.

When I got home, I was starving but I wasn’t in the mood curried chickpeas and green beans again for some reason.  My “Asian” rice earlier in the week had been good, and since I saw that a bottle of soy sauce had appeared in the fridge, I decide to make a very basic fried rice.  (Maybe after Wendy’s I needed something with the word “fried” in the name).  I tossed some green beans and rice in a skillet with some oil and finished it with soy sauce and a splash of oyster sauce and sesame oil.  Awesome!   So awesome, in fact, I ate way too much.  All the rice I had cooked earlier in the day was gone.

Then, as I was practically licking my bowl, I had a realization: I’ve basically been cheating on this fast since day one.  I haven’t bought any oil or soy sauce.  I haven’t bought any spices or even salt for that matter.  There’s no way I could given my weekly food allowance.  Yet, I’ve been using them as if they were a given – and not just today.  I’ve been doing it since I sauteed my first chicken tender on day one.  I reached for the salt without even thinking.

All of us have to make one of those special grocery runs where we buy our oils, spices, and condiments.  They are not things we have to purchase every week.  Especially in the case of oils and spices, they last a long time (assuming you’re not deep frying or cooking large quantities).  But they are expensive.  Acquiring them is an investment.  I suppose I could assume that at some point, even living on a minimum wage income, I could find money to make that investment.  However, that’s a rather comfortable assumption for a middle class guy to make.   It’s such a shame – no, a tragedy.  The right spices can add phenomenal flavor to even the most basic ingredients. And they don’t just make food taste good; turmeric, ginger, garlic, and a host of other spices are good for you…if you can afford them.  If.   What a barrier this initial “startup” cost must be to learning how to cook healthier, more frugal meals.  

I am ending the day humbled.  Wow – the things we take for granted.

Lord, thank you for once again opening my eyes.  Help me to  see more deeply and clearly.  Amen.



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  1. I loved your post. I think every day, while focussing on Him rather than ourselves, we learn something new about ourselves. The part I focus on the most during Lent is the passage, and I am not sure which one, where it says that although we may be fasting, praying more and going without, we should not look that way to others. It helps us to learn humility. That is hard! I think as humans we want people to know we are doing something different, that we are giving of ourselves. I guess that’s the point of the passage. If I can get anything out of my Lenten promise this season, it would be a greater sense of humility. Thanks again for making me think.

    • Thanks for your comment – and thanks for reading. Learning humility is definitely something that Lent should be about. I don’t think it would be remiss to think of Lent as something of an annual remedial course =).

      The passage you’re referring to is in Matthew 6. It’s part of the Sermon on the Mount and is one of the traditional readings for Ash Wednesday. Jesus’ words there give me pause, actually. I am writing these blog entries about my fast as a way to (1) keep myself accountable and (2) reflect on what I’m experiencing, but at the same time I’m also broadcasting to the world: “Hey, look at me. I’m fasting.” It remains a challenge to share without it becoming an end unto itself. There is a reason why pride is the root of all the deadly sins.

      Peace and blessings for the journey.



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