Because I am fasting from meat, I've had to think about what I consume. That's not to say that I don't ordinarily think about food, I think about food a lot: "Hmm, what'll we have for dinner?" "I wonder if we have any garlic." "Mmm, nachos would be great right now."
Although I don't ordinarily eat much meat, I had expected a certain degree of preoccupation with food: the occasional craving or desire. (The latest episode was on Saturday, when I cooked – what I am told – was an awesome corned beef. I had a mediocre cream of potato soup.) These bouts with temptation have rather expected results: I resist the temptation because I have made a commitment to do so; other things then satisfy me in ways I didn't expect; and I am left with the feeling that I am sustained by a God who cares for my needs and not my every whim.
And if you're tired of me talking about food so much lately, here's a non food-related illustration of another surprising lesson I've been learning: I have a key ring with only church keys on it. That way, I don't have to walk around with this great big lump of keys in my pocket if I'm not going to the church. The other day I set these keys on the counter where I ordinarily set down my cell phone, instead of in my closet where I usually put the keys. I don't remember why I put the keys there, but I'm sure I had a good reason at the time. And I remember thinking, "I need to put these where they go or I'll forget them next time I go to church." And then I said to myself, "No, no. I know where they are; I will remember them." Sure enough, guess what I had to go back home for on Sunday morning?
Call them habits, routines, or ruts, our repeated patterns of behavior can be a blessing and a curse. I know me; I know that without my regular habits, I will certainly neglect a perfectly healthy choice like bringing my keys with me to work. But I also know that these same ruts lead me to less-than-healthy choices simply because that's what I'm used to doing. Fasting from meat this Lent seems to be revealing this truth to me: going without this one thing reveals my need to examine the things I do simply because that's what I'm used to doing. In other words, do I eat meat for dinner because it's good for me to do so, or am I eating it simply because (and I hope I don't get sued by the beef industry for saying this) it's what's for dinner?