A long time tradition around our house of either a Saturday or Sunday morning is to go out and pick up a dozen donuts for breakfast, which usually last until we throw out the stale leftovers on Tuesday. By the way, how is it that something that is so delicious on one day can become the close cousin of a piece of cement only 48 hours later? But that’s another subject… Anyway, in “BP” time – before pandemic – it was a very simple process, which consisted of going to perhaps the best donut place in the known galaxy – Sandy’s Donuts – and picking out twelve, which became thirteen since they give you a baker’s dozen, of filled, glazed, iced and always tasty wads of fried dough.
You see, I know all about donuts, since in my last semester of seminary, while I was trying to raise enough money to get married in June, that I came to be employed by another excellent purveyor of pastries – read donuts – by the name of Lone Star Donuts in Dallas. My job, for which I was paid $3.25/hour, was to take the already raised donuts, at 36 pieces per rack, and gently drop them into huge vat of bubbling oil. After waiting for however long it took, I then would use a pair of long chopsticks and quickly flip each donut over to cook on the other side. Just long enough, but not too long to have them get oil-logged, at the magic moment, I then would lift the scalding rack out of the oil, and place it on the glazer, and using a trough of white sugar glazing material, I would slowly pour what seemed to be quarts of liquid sweetness over the hot donuts, let them cool, and move them to the tray that would be carried out front to be sold. Please note – I never got to go out front. I was the grunt cook, whose jeans, night after night could almost stand on their own, as fat-coated, glaze-coated inedible creations following a night of making the donuts.
Nowadays, however, my only connection with donuts is as a regular consumer, along with my family. I said it used to be a simple process of just driving over to the store, walking in and asking for the different donuts, paying for them, and walking out. Then “it” hit. I wish I could describe the feelings that surround the difference between then and now. In the most practical sense, very little has changed. Decide what kind of donuts everyone wants. Check. Get in the car and drive over to the store. Check. Tell the people taking the order what kind of donuts I want to buy. Check. Give them money, take the donuts and walk out. Go home and eat. Check. Except…
It's that darn mask, you know. It has changed everything, because it is not only a symbol of what could happen, but also of what can no longer happen. Now, when I drive over to the store, before getting out of the car, I have to reach over, grab the dumb face covering (I know it’s important, but I can still call it dumb..), hook it over my ears, and then reposition it so it doesn’t make my ears stick out like Dumbo on a windy day, and then get out of the car, find a way to open the door of the store without touching the handle with my hands, walk up to the carpet with the colored tape telling me I can’t go past the line, and then give my order with a mumbling, smothering piece of fabric over my mouth. Then, instead of handing over some money, I have to use a card of some sort, which only I can touch, and then mufflespeak a thank-you and walk out, where I can finally take my mask off and breathe fresh air.
I end up coughing every time. I know it’s only psychological, and I can breathe just fine, but it doesn’t feel like it. And, by the way, I find myself deeply resenting those persons who go in and out of the places I go to, and as strangers, never feel the need or the responsibility to wear a mask. I know I growl at them with my eyes, and I find myself not being very courteous to them, but doggone it, I don’t want to wear it either, but I am committed to not contracting this beast, and having it change my life or the life of my family. I know, also, that it has all changed my decision making process for going out to “get something.” Donut store, grocery store, drive through at the fast food store, the greeting card store – even UPS all become strategic destinations I need to agree that I must (not sort of want) to go to, mask and all. Frankly, there are some days when I just adjust what I really must obtain for living, and what I can do without, simply because I hate that mask.
I think one of the sadder things I have read was the estimation of an expert who said she thought we might never be done with masks. Can you imagine? Birthday gifts and Christmas stocking stuffers, which once were socks and ties, now will be face masks? Extra pockets will be sewn into pants or suitcoats – the “mask pocket.” And what a proud day when a young man or woman is gifted their very first adult mask. A new confirmation present. Of course, it could all change, and we move into a different new world, where the need for a mask is minimal. But we don’t know, do we? For now, this is our life, and we hope the maskless ones don’t get TOO sick.
To live in this transitory time in our culture has us wondering if this is dusk or dawn. Is it the end of what we always enjoyed – vacations, a nice meal out, a movie theatre, a concert? Or is it simply the new age that is slowly coming into being, where with care and intentional forethought, we can live healthy and whole, while existing with joy in this world. My prayer is that we will find the best right answer, and never give up. God breathed life into the first human, and it is that breath that will help us move forward – masks and all. Take a deep breath, and wash your hands, too…
Word of the day: coddiwomple. Yes, it’s an actual word. A bit different than others I have chosen, because it really is an English slang word. You can almost say it with a cockney accent, and it sounds more legitimate. It’s a neat word, that carries a paradox. It means to travel in an intentional, purposeful way… toward a destination that you really haven’t clarified – something vague or blurry. It reflects a sense of intentional chaos, where we take steps forward on purpose and still we are not sure where we are going. To “coddiwomple” is to open the doors and windows of our lives to the fresh air of joy, and unexpected experiences, instead of leaving everything sit as a closed system, with nothing new ever being able to enter, and nothing old and stale able to leave. Our sons would tell you that often, when we were traveling back and forth across the country to take their earthly possessions to their new homes at various colleges, I might take a wrong turn, or miss the right one. After driving for a while, they would ask, “So – are we lost?” My response was always, “No – I’m just not sure where I am, but I know where we are going, sort of…” Those trips are written down in our family history as adventures with Dad. I always knew where we were going, actually – just not exactly.
Go ahead and coddiwomple today – get some fresh air.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.