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On the Way   The Rt. Rev. Audrey Scanlan
A soft day with a rough patch. The Good Shepherd was waiting on the other side.

I have friends who live in Ireland, and when they say that it’s been a “soft day,” they mean that it’s been a wee bit wet- somewhere between a mist and a drizzle.

It was sunny and beautiful today in Central Pennsylvania- but I’d still call it a “soft day.”

Holy Monday is like that. We’ve settled down after the hollering at the gates of Jerusalem, and we’ve taken in the solemn, empty ending of the reading of the Passion. It invites us to quiet contemplation. Soft.

Monday is usually my day off. In these times of sequestering, every day feels a little more relaxed (at least wardrobe-wise…) … and… every day is filled with more urgent things than ever: make a video, write a letter, check in on folks by phone. It’s all a bit of a blur, work-wise. The boundaries are pretty fuzzy, but it’s all good. Soft, even, at times.

I did my usual Monday things: I said my morning devotions, fed the cats, went for a run. It felt nice. Not rushed. I made a nice breakfast. I spooned out the rest of the yogurt and felt that relaxed and satisfied feeling- that soft feeling- of ease and peace.

And then…. I went to the grocery store. These days, that is a frightful and exhausting process. Here’s how I do it: I stick my credit card and Giant card in the back pocket of my jeans. Put on my mask and gloves and drive to the store. Shop as quickly as possible and resist buying more than I need which is a tempting but only brief antidote to the anxiety of a scarcity mindset. (I put the same three cans of beans in and out of my cart twice before deciding to take just the one that I needed and return the other two to the shelf.) Follow the new one-way arrows on the floor of the store. Re-tool the menu idea to bake bread this week when the flour is gone. All of it. Gone. (Guess I won’t need that yeast I’m growing on my kitchen counter in a mason jar). Check out using the self-check. Require the attendant to come over four times in my checking out because I am no good at the self-check. Try to speak to the attendant through my bandana mask with its rubber band ear loops that are tearing at the hair behind my ears, and repeat myself three times before she can understand me while I am trying, also, to maintain a six-foot distance. Extract my card from my back pocket while wearing rubber gloves. (You could charge admission for that maneuver, alone.) Pay with my card. Go to slip the card back in my pocket. Drop the card on the floor. Pick it up, convinced that it is covered with COVID. Walk briskly to the exit… only to find out that it is not an exit anymore, but the sole entrance. Walk all the way to the other side of the store to get out. Walk across the parking lot- all the way across the parking lot– because I thought that I had parked near the exit. Nope. Load up the car. Drive home, still wearing the gloves. When I finally land in the garage, take a Lysol wipe out of a container on the passenger seat and wipe the steering wheel, gear shift and directional signal and then open the car door using the wipe.

Get into the house by holding the doorknob with a wipe. Gloves still on, carry the bags of groceries to the kitchen and place them on the floor. Find the bleach spray and a clean dishtowel. Soak the dishtowel in the spray. Peel off the gloves and put in the garbage, inside out. Fill up the sink with warm soapy water. Put the broccoli, eggplant, butternut squash, lemons, pears and bananas in the soapy water. (I have never washed a banana before. Or any of that other stuff, either). Wipe down all of the packaged groceries with the bleach-soaked cloth. Put them in the fridge. Extract my credit cards and wipe them with bleach and toss them back in my pocketbook. Peel off my clothes in the laundry room. Go upstairs and take a hot soapy shower. Come downstairs and sink into my soft leather chair.

Phew.

Thank God for Godly Play. The meditation on the Good Shepherd that was offered today as part of the line-up for Families and Children on our diocesan webpage was exactly what I needed after my outing. The other prayers and songs were good, too, but the calm, mesmerizing, spacious Godly Play story of the Good Shepherd was healing balm for my Giant-frazzled nerves.

I wondered along with the story teller about where my green pastures and still waters are. When she invited me to wonder about what in my life is like a cool sip of that sweet water, I immediately thought of my family: sibs, children, grandchildren. When the storyteller moved each sheep through the “dangerous places” (three dark pieces of felt that looked like a rock formation) I thought of recent struggles and conflicts and how I had moved my way through. When the story teller moved the Good Shepherd back to help retrieve one of the sheep that had gotten stuck, it was very reassuring; I felt in my bones that Jesus wouldn’t leave me out in the dark, alone.

Godly Play is designed for children. (Yeah, right.)

Tonight we will have chicken thighs cooked with shiitake mushrooms and stone ground mustard and coconut milk. It will be worth it my frazzled trip to the Giant Supermarket.

I realize, too, these days, that there is a growing sense of “survivor guilt” that I am beginning to feel. I have a job, a warm bed and plenty of food. We talked on our walk this evening about where we might direct some of our resources because it is all too clear that we are among the very fortunate. A trip to Giant might be frightening- I don’t want to get sick- and, my gratitude is great. The Good Shepherd is calling me to step up, on this Holy Monday, to seek out some of the sheep who haven’t made it safely to the fold in these difficult days.

What were your places of still water today?

What were your scary places?

Did you walk with the Good Shepherd today?

2 thoughts on “A soft day with a rough patch. The Good Shepherd was waiting on the other side.”

  1. William T Warne II says:

    In December, I’ll celebrate my 79th birthday and, as I read your last question, “Did you walk with the Good Shepherd today?” I thought to myself, heck…I’ve been walking with the Good Shepherd practically all my life. I was baptized, confirmed, Fran and I were married there and I was sponsored for Ordination by The Church of the Good Shepherd in Scranton, PA (Diocese of Bethlehem) and after I retired from active ministry at the end of 30 years serving the people of The Church of the Nativity and St. Stephen, Newport and Thompsontown and all her surrounding communities in a multitude of ways, Fran and I returned to our home parish only to be asked within a couple of months to fill in for a year and a half as her priest until she found a new Rector — an unexpected joy to serve in my home parish that actually lasted for five years as her Priest-in-Residence (not in charge) having persuaded Bp. Marshall that it was important for the vestry and lay people to run the parish and live out their baptismal ministries, leaving me simply to look after all the so-called liturgical and pastoral ministries. So, in one sense, you could say, I both started and ended my active ministry “walking with the Good Shepherd”. And, ironically, while I served as GS’s Priest-in-Residence, our oldest son, WTW III, continues to serve as the Rector of The Church of the Good Shepherd in Vancouver, WA and he is still their Rector at present. Thus, I believe the Good Shepherd has been and continues to be a central figure in the life of our faith, even during this “sequestered” times, because we’re able to worship via YouTube with our son, Tom and the people of GS, Vancouver. So, I guess you could say that the Warne sheep have always been led by the Good Shepherd and we pray it will stay that way. Meanwhile, may you and Glenn, all your family, and all the people of DioCP have a blessed Holy Week and a most joyful Easter. We are “Easter people living in a Good Friday”. Peace.

  2. William T Warne II says:

    I meant to close my comment by saying: “We are Easter people living in a Good Friday world”.

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