For Such a Time as This

Since leaving Orthodoxy, I'm not really that big on fasts. As a result of Orthodoxy, I'm not big on fasts that seem to set out to change God's mind. Yet, here I find myself: bean soup in the fridge and bread in the bread machine. And it all has to last two people for three days.

You can read about the "For Such a Time as This" fast that Bread for the World has called for in greater detail on their own webpage--I'd just be rehashing the same stuff--but I did want to blab on about my take on it and maybe encourage others to do it now and in the future. The first fast is three days (a la Esther) to prepare us for the major work of advocating against cuts to safety net programs. Subsequent fasts will take place (for one day) each 21st of the month--the day when 90% of SNAP benefits run out. When I heard about it, I put my thinking cap on and decided on some things:

  • I cannot go without food for three days voluntarily. That's madness. 
  • I can eat a limited amount of food. 
  • I can eat a limited scope of food. 
  • I can and will force this on my husband. 
When I give to food drives, dried beans are my big go-to. (And then I read Evicted and learned that some shit-hole apartments don't even have microwaves, much less a stove to cook beans on. That took the wind out of my sails.) So I went to my cupboard and got a pound of gourmet beans out. I feel bad about the gourmet, but I only know how to cook a pound of beans in the Instant Pot. So that's one less pound of beans in my pantry. With that, I made a simple bean soup with a mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery), a little oil (Instant Pots require a little oil with beans and rice and "expanding things" to prevent foam from building up), and leftover chicken stock. That was yesterday; today, I'm making a high-protein bread called Cornell bread that I've often made for others and never for myself. I'm ready to try it. Oh, and milk is allowed because I don't want it to go bad during the fast. 

And here's the rub: This is all we'll be eating for this fast. If we run out of food, that's it. 

No, I don't claim to know what 90% of people on food stamps go through when they have to spend up to ten days without being able to buy food. But these exercises are often enlightening, and I pray that they're enlightening to me and enlightening to my senators and congressman when I write to them about my experience. At least, that's the plan. Keep notes, write poems, write letters, try not to run out of food, live as best I can if I do. Oh, and wear burlap ribbon around my wrist (the "visible sign"--sackcloth without the ashes). 

I do a lot of advocacy work for Bread for the World, and I'm glad to do this with them. I'm proud that the Episcopal Church has chosen to do this as well. Hunger has become an important issue to me--somehow it overtook homelessness as the most important issue to me. Maybe you'll join me? Instant Pots can make beans real fast!