Lent as a Heathen

I have to start here with a disclaimer: I'm not Catholic. I'm not even Christian. But I live in a very Catholic area, and I like the rhythm of the seasons and observances of the liturgical calendar that are celebrated here, much of which occurs outside the church. Accordingly, the sweet, greasy baked goods of Fasching punctually disappeared from the bakeries between Tuesday and Wednesday with the start of Lent. Many will forgo coffee, meat, or grains for the next 40 days. Their sacrifice is an exercise of devotion for Jesus' suffering, but also one of humility, simplicity, and concentration. The former cannot apply to me - at least in its intended sense - but the latter three could do me some good.

Humility: I only managed the "Whole 12", as in, less than half of what I set out to do. I wouldn't say I threw up my hands and made myself a SAD sandwich, but there has been some fresh and delicious hummus, 2 slices of raw hard cheese, and home-made cough remedy made from radish, garlic, ginger and lemon peel steeped in honey.

Simplicity: I've decided to take advantage of Lent to explain why I've given up grains. My homeopath may say otherwise at my appointment on Monday, but I am personally content to stick to my previous Real Food diet but restrict foods like tubers, beans, lentils, sugars and dairy, saving total avoidance for grains of all types.

Concentration: Despite the sense that the start of Lent released me from fasting, it is still a heck of a trick to avoid all grains. Helpful people offer me spelt and sorghum crackers. I don't want to get into alternative flours, yet my husband's birthday is coming up and he wants a cake. No thickened sauces. Even breakfast sausages are problematic. Any time I've cheated I've been quickly reminded that I don't want white flour badly enough to take its effects, but the fact that I've been reminded a few times suggests my concentration could use some work.

I will say that at the moment I dearly wish I had someone to whom to pray. I'll handle my dietary needs myself, but our adoption plans, stalled and stagnant for so long, seemed to be gathering momentum of late before being crippled last night by one AP headline: Ethiopia moves to sharply reduce foreign adoptions.

We only ever seriously considered two sending countries: South Africa and Ethiopia. South Africa changed its Children's Act in April 2010, with one of the changes being that only specifically registered "children's protection agencies" are permitted to handle international adoption. Thus the partnership our local family and youth authorities had for many years enjoyed with an independent South African social worker is no longer allowed. No new partnership is foreseen. Ethiopia's program was large and well-rehearsed, but more complex and expensive than South Africa's. Nonetheless it was (and hopefully still is) our first choice because our first-born was conceived there. We already have a connection to the place, and we'd have some fast and final answers to any prying questions such as "where is your child from?" (both my children are from Ethiopia).

The moves around the world to protect children and families are right. Efforts to prevent child trafficking are right. Governments are right to work towards better oversight of a process that takes children born in their lands across the planet, perhaps never to return.

Children have a right to grow up in families.

Our ardent wish to expand our family without creating another person to do it is certainly not a right, but I can't shake the feeling that we are an incomplete project as we stand now. I could not bear a child wondering if I would always be haunted by the child who did not get to sleep in that bed, snuggle up and listen to that story, bring home that school art project. The succour of prayer is all I have until there are answers that can lead to decisions and plans, but it feels hollow to ask this without devotion to offer in return.

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