I haven’t been on a big grocery run in 10 days per CDC recommendations. There are five adult/adult-size people living under our roof right now, and we have begun scrapping the bottom of the storehouse, so I decided to get to HEB early when they opened to try to load up for another week and a half or so of isolation.
But apparently, HEB is only allowing a certain number of shoppers in the store at one time, and even before they opened, the line of shoppers waiting to get in stretched maybe fifty deep into the parking lot, all spaced out, with empty carts in hand, standing in somber silence. Waiting for their daily (or weekly) bread.
And since I didn’t have two hours to wait in line, I turned around and headed back to our local Walmart to scavenge for what we needed. Walmart wasn’t crowded, but it was busy-ish. No crazy hoarding going on. But what struck me most as soon as I walked in was, again, that same somber silence. Every face like stone. Not like the usually noisy bustle of our Walmart. Some customers wore masks. Many wore gloves. All were on guard. The sweet greeter at the entrance was hustling about trying to quickly get someone to refill the anti-bac wipe container by the buggies at the front. She was beginning to panic.
And no one spoke. Everyone just seemed . . . angry. Not like an overt anger because there is still no toilet paper or Germ-X in stock, but a low-key, droning, simmering anger. An anger at life in general right now, I suppose. An anger spiced with fear.
We are all afraid of one another right now, and that’s just so very sad.
I thought about crying right there in the baking goods aisle, because the only flour in stock was the bulk-ginormous bag variety, and I had to get flour, but where in heaven’s name was I going to store that much flour in our already human-crowded, pantry-deficient little house? Aaaah!! See, it’s the little things, the stupid things that are making me spiral lately.
And I remembered (was Spirit-reminded, probably) that just before I left the house, I had been going through our Acts study, reading chapter 28 where Paul and company are shipwrecked on this little island called Malta. And I remembered how the Word told me just this morning that the natives on that island, strangers to Paul and Christianity and maybe even to upscale Roman civilization in general – the natives showed them “unusual kindness”.
And me there in the baking goods aisle with all this fury and grief about a needlessly large bag of flour. And all the other shoppers carefully navigating around the other humans in their path to get the last bag of frozen tater tots or carton of Go-Gurt, eyeing any coughers like they are armed enemy assassins. The anger and quiet grief stewing below the surface of this suddenly broken “unbreakable” society.
God, we need you to make us able.
Able to show this unusual kindness somehow. At a distance even. To break through the cold terror clouding our collective hearts. When we can’t hug the hurting, show us how to support one another to Your glory. We don’t know how to get through this, Lord, and still keep our humanity, still let the divine spark shine.
God, show us how, make us able to love one another with unusual kindness right now.