“Pay attention- don’t let life go by. Fall in love with the back of your cereal box.” – Jerry Seinfeld.
“Hope is holding a creative tension between what is and what could and should be, each day doing something to narrow the distance between the two.” — Parker J. Palmer
The other day, I made a quick run to the grocery store for another week in quarantine. The store clerk at the entrance was making sure only so many people were allowed inside at one time.
I was wearing a mask and the clerk, also in mask, assured those of us in line the carts had been sanitized (but I’m not touching my face all the same!) I smiled at the clerk who smiled back (if you’re paying attention, you just realized what a useless gesture that was!) But I nodded and she then put her hands together in a kind of prayerful gratitude way and invited me inside.
You try to keep these essential visits brief and to the point. No time for conversation and everyone’s looking at everyone else as if they could be their potential demise. And never mind what happens when you clear your throat!
So I made my way to the produce section. Linda asked for two avocados. Organic. And ripe, but not too ripe.
I stood at the avocado bin and thought to myself, “Don’t touch them. Just look for the perfect one and grab it. No double touching!” A young woman cautiously walked up to the other side and was having the same kind of anxious “how can you really tell if it’s ripe if you can’t squeeze it?” question.
Then she broke the awkward moment and asked, “You know the lifecycle of the avocado, don’t you?”
I smiled (again, wasted), “Not really.”
She said in an enthusiastic, childlike and muffled, way,
“Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. Not yet… Now EAT ME! Too late!”
We both laughed. It was stupid silly. But true. And it was a nice way to break the awkwardness of pandemic shopping. We grabbed two avocados each and wished each other good luck in hoping they turned out perfect.
It has hit me on more than one occasion during this strange and uncomfortable, anxious time of COVID-19, that I am spending a fair amount of time hoping this all turns out okay. I think we all are. We’re keeping busy, but we’re also anxious, worried, and waiting. It’s a kind of waiting for an answer or a relief or just a release from this emotional prison.
But there isn’t really any magical moment when the time will be right and things will go back to normal. What is normal . . . now? If this pandemic has taught us anything, surely it’s taught us that all our life plans can be in perfect order, sailing along, and suddenly run aground. It’s not a new lesson, but maybe one that has hit really home for a lot of us. For our world.
We are all looking for some hope these days. Hoping for the best. Hoping for a job. Hoping for healing or stability — or simply a quiet space in the house after 23 days in captivity with a small army of children and a stranger who used to be your spouse!
And, of course, most of us simply hope for connection – the physical presence of our friends, our extended family, live music, the theater, the zoo (oh, wait… some of us have that at home right now).
And many of us hope for the health and wellbeing of this ever-shrinking planet we call home!
And, by the way, this Sunday is Easter! It’s a celebration of resurrection — and I want you to know that we have a hopeful and spirited celebration planned for eleven:eleven, downtown!
We will be joined (virtually, of course) by the amazing blues guitarist, Buddy Whittington, bassist Aden Bubeck, singer/songwriters Hannah Kirby and Krista Russell, as well as Brad Thompson — and a number of our own talented band!
And we’ll also have a special visit from our old friend, Minnesota with singer/songwriter, Peter Mayer!
Join me, Charme, Brad, and others for a very inspiring and uplifting celebration of Easter! This Sunday, at 11:11 a.m.
Rev. Tom McDermott
Associate Pastor of eleven:eleven