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.
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?