Ever since 1970, when I heard Melanie Safka sing, “I don’t eat animals, cause I love em you see. I don’t eat animals, and they don’t eat me,” I’ve wanted to be a vegetarian.
I got good at it when I was in college, after reading an article by a hunter challenging people who are against hunting to stop eating meat. I did better after reading quotes by Isaac Bashevis Singer comparing factory farms to Nazi concentration camps, a realistic comparison considering the severity of misery inflicted. Watching videos of baby chicks being de-beaked or ground up alive, always works for a while. I’ve actually gotten better over the years at not eating chicken.
For almost 30 years, I’ve had no problem abstaining from mammal flesh, feeling a kinship with animals who feed their babies with milk from their bodies, like I did. But I’ve struggled with fish and chicken. Most of the time, I’ve been imperfect in my quest.
Except for Lent. During Lent, the 40 days that start with Ash Wednesday and finish up with Easter, I am stronger. For 40 days, I know I can do what my spirit tells me is right for me. I can be an honest vegetarian-no chicken and no fish. During Lent, I have the strength to stretch myself, with God’s help, to have more days of being vegan-no animal products at all. With so many alternatives available these days, it’s not too much of a sacrifice considering what Jesus did for us. So, I approach Lent with a sense of confidence that grows stronger each year.
Lent doesn’t have to be about giving something up. It can be about adding something good to your life. Like singing more.
At the Church of the Good Shepherd, we are working on a song for lent called: “You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord.” It’s about God saying, “I will raise you up on eagle’s wings,bear you on the breath of dawn, make you shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of my hand.” It gives my soul goose bumps. This is what I joined choir for: that feeling of accomplishment when you start to “get” a song you love- when it starts to come together with the voices of friends. It’s a natural high, a power that comes from divine love.
So this year, I will add daily singing to my Lenten practice. It’s good for the soul. I’ll sing for God and for Jesus and for the animals. Cause I love ’em you see.