Beans and Rice
August 27, 2012
Charlie and I did a 5-day rice and beans fast as a part of our observance of lent, and I wanted to share about that experience with you. We did the Hungry for Change program through Trade as One. My motivation is not to let you know how pious I am. Rather, Charlie and I both benefitted greatly from this experience, and I want to share that with you.
For five days, we ate oatmeal in the morning. For lunch and dinner, we had rice and beans. We had a pound each of rice, beans and oatmeal for five days. We had tea in the morning, then water the rest of the day. As best as we could, we were trying to live on the amount of calories that people living on less than $2 a day live on. No extra fat. So, no butter on our oatmeal. We did use a small amount of honey. We also enjoyed sauces on our beans and rice. Around the world, people make condiments to go with their rice and beans. We enjoyed pico de gallo, and I also made a tomato curry sauce.
Why did we do this? There is a long tradition of fasting being a tool in the Christian faith for people to hear God. We definitely wanted in on this. We want to partner with the poor in our business. We were hoping to understand a bit more about the experience of living on fewer calories. We also wanted to express solidarity with the poor.
What did we gain?
– Gnawing hunger. Notice that the bowl above has nothing left in it. We ate every bean and every grain of rice that we had coming to us. I was very tired and didn’t work out. Charlie still exercised every day. As well as feeling tired, he also felt weak. We were both mentally fuzzy. What was sobering to me was that most of the world’s poor make their living through physical labor. I think of people working in brick kilns or in mines. I can’t imagine living on this amount of calories and having a physically demanding job.
– Sober gratitude. During the five days that we did this, our kids ate normally. Our cupboards were full. Words can’t express the level of gratitude that I felt (and still feel) that my children don’t know hunger. I’m beyond grateful that I don’t have to worry about clean water or sanitation for my little ones. We don’t walk for miles to a muddy water source- we don’t even walk to a safe well in our village. Rather, I go into my kitchen and turn on the tap. The fast sowed such gratitude in my heart that I tore off a huge piece of butcher paper and made a long list of all those things for which I’m grateful.
– Clarity. The hunger brought us to our core. It shook off the things that are meaningless. I have to say that I underestimated how hungry we would be. I wasn’t prepared for it. I also had no idea that it would bring us back to what’s most important.
The bottom line was that the experience was so powerful for us that we’re planning to do it a couple of times a year. The feeling of hunger has faded. I’ve taken down my gratitude poster. I’m not as mindful of the blessing of a contentedly fully belly. So, we’re ready to go again. Ready to sow seeds of gratitude and clarity. Have any of you tried this? I would love to hear about your experience.