February 6, 2013
February 2, 2013
One of the local stores in town often has fresh bakery items for sale near the front of the store (where else would they be?!). When I'm down in the dumps and need to go shopping, if I end up at the co-op, I inevitably buy one of their chocolate chip cookies and one of their chocolate-espresso-with-white-chocolate-chips cookies. Somehow I feel better when I give myself permission to have a treat.
These past few weeks, I've gotten quite a few treats.
There are tough and tender times going on in my life, both at home and where I worship. I'm currently serving as clerk of Laughing Waters Friends Preparative Meeting, and out of respect for our process, I won't share what's going on, other than to say I've had nudges to remind Friends at various times that we are called to love God and love one another, including during difficulty.
At home, God has nudged me to remember these two commandments and to follow my own advice. And when I'm not paying attention, when I'm caught up in self-righteousness, God knows how to get my attention.
In recent months, we've been participating in a local program for homeless youth, which means we have a teenager/young adult living with us. We are getting to know each other in fits and starts. For every few days that go by smoothly, there is at least half a day when our home-life is turned topsy-turvy and we have a house meeting to clarify some ground rules ("no taking food into your room"), set limits ("no having friends over past 9:00 on a week night"), or make requests ("please tell us when you want something from the grocery store"; "please invite me to go grocery shopping with you"). There are fun times, too. Often our house meetings and other evenings end with us taking turns reading to each other some Maya Angelou or e.e. cummings or Hafiz.
One night when we as a household were getting ready to sit down together and watch--well, indulge in watching the show Scandal, I realized there were a few key household items that were needed before the weekend, and it seemed to me that I was the only one who cared that we didn't have them.
I grumpily put on my boots, hat, coat, and mittens and headed out to the store just 15 minutes before the show was going to start.
I made a lot of green lights that night, and felt hopeful about missing just a few minutes of the episode. But I was also crabby that no one volunteered to go with me, that I was doing this one errand on my own because keeping my word was more important to me than watching 60 minutes of a TV drama about lust, power, and presidential politics.
I decided I was going to treat myself to those cookies. I deserved them... and I wasn't in any mood to share.
I tucked the two cookies I had taken from the self-serve counter into a parchment sleeve and had the cashier ring them up, along with the fragrance-free products and packets of dried blueberries. As I always do, I kept the cookies out of the tote bag I had brought so I could snack on them on the way home--and righteously so.
I climbed into the car, which I had parked just 4 minutes earlier particularly close to the icy curb. From the driver's seat, I placed the tote onto the passenger seat... and watched as the cookies' sleeve silently slipped out in slow motion from my clumsy mittened hand...
...landing gently with its papery mouth open and facing toward the floor...
...and watched as the tasty discs, one by delicious one, emerged briefly into sight, and then silently slid off the seat and into the small slot between it and the passenger door, lost from sight and leaving me salivating and seething.
Love one another, I hear God say. Love one another, including those whom ye are closest to, even when grumpy.