You see, the trouble with making a menu in a family when you are still dealing with issues surrounding the pandemic, is that one or more options may arise in the course of getting ready to fix dinner. First, what sounded pretty good on Saturday when you made the menu really doesn’t sound good at all come Wednesday; or someone comes home from working in the clinic all day and when faced with the idea of eating what has been planned, decides that she really would like to treat herself instead. Of course, it’s also possible that we just get tired of eating what we have been eating, and we have enough money to order in or pick up supper.
Last night, as Cheri got in the car, she said, “What I’d REALLY like is a nice place of chicken alfredo!” I have to tell you that that particular dish is a far distance from the planned hamburger hotdish (what some of you would call casserole or such – up here, they are hotdishes). As I looked into those beautiful blue eyes, I knew that her wish was my command, and so we go home, pulled up Olive Garden online, and proceeded to order our supper. It was going along well, until the little note flashed that if we were interested in having our meal delivered that night, we should have thought ahead, and ordered before 5pm the DAY BEFORE! Who knows that, especially when it was going to be hamburger hotdish… still, it was possible for us to order the meal, and then simply drive to Olive Garden, wait in their designated “pick up your order” spot, and the happy servers would be more than eager to bring the meal out to you, which then would allow you to drive home, and enjoy the meal from the safety and comfort of your own table, where you don’t have to socially distance yourselves from potentially infectious strangers. Such is the time in which we live.
Now, I have to tell you that since the middle of March, we haven’t gone out in the evening. We’ve sat in the back yard, we have ordered food in, we have watched TV or done jigsaw puzzles, but we just haven’t driven anywhere after about 5:15. It’s a different world in the evening, and by writing that statement, I know I sound as though I am about 120 years old, driving a 1940s Buick… But, all that being the case, Cheri and I set out to make the quick 25 minute trip across town to the restaurant, since Fargo hasn’t thought enough to encourage good restaurants out where we live on the south edge of town…
As we left our development about 5:45, I noticed there was a pretty big uptick in traffic. This was surprising, given that of course everyone was doing their best not to socially squish in next to each other. As we passed the elementary school, we were shocked to see the parking lots – three of them – packed with cars. There had been no mention of school orientation, and there were way more than just what would exist for a teacher’s meeting. As we turned the corner, we then understood what was happening: the large playground/field by the school was filled with nets and flying soccer balls and little boys and girls in expensive uniforms all getting ready for what apparently is Thursday Night Soccer. In the field were, I would estimate, close to 300 or more people, of all ages, squished in socially next to each other. I was even more amazed that I didn’t see one single person wearing a mask. All I could figure out what this was of course the Stupid Thursday Night Soccer. I wished at that moment that I could have dropped a 50,000-gallon balloon full of disinfectant all over the field. School is set to start up here on Tuesday, but they have already jumped the gun with potential infections.
As we drove in heavy traffic up closer to the restaurant part of town, I noticed another large gathering for the Thursday Night Baseball games, again, with the same cramming in of people and lack of masks. All I could think is that we were doomed
When we made to Olive Garden, I again was overwhelmed to see the parking lot almost to capacity with probably 250 cars. And no, they weren’t all parked in the handy “pick up your order” spots. Those were all full, but so were most every other spot. Some people actually were walking into the restaurant with masks in hand, but many others must have thought they were too beautiful to cover their faces with a mask. We got the food, and headed out. I was even more aware of the huge traffic, almost like it was the week before Christmas. As we drove past Target and the mall, again, the parking lots were squished with cars.
When we got home, I had the desire to wash the food off. Now, I know that we too contributed to the traffic last night, but I can honestly say that the only social interaction we had was when the young gal, wearing a mask, gave me the food through my open car window, as I was wearing a mask, and then we went home. That’s not the way the rest of Fargo functioned.
I know that God is willing for this pandemic to eventually dissipate and even become more of a nuisance than a deadly beast. I also know that most of us will not get dreadfully sick, just as we don’t when the flu season happens. The Spanish Flu was its worst for an entire year (we have been about this for 5 ½ months), and its effects went on for 10 years. The Black Plague, which killed possibly 200,000,000 people, lasted 14 years at its peak deadliness.
I have said before that the greatest asset of Americans is also their greatest weakness. It’s impatience. Because we are so impatient when things are the way we want them, we work hard to change our world, our environment, our technology to make it better. Unfortunately, we also tend to too soon ignore and set aside situations that indeed are important and potentially deadly.
I’ll not be going out in Fargo this Friday evening. We are having hotdish. I am re-committed to being intentionally patient, and to also be in intentional prayer for my neighbors, for whom it is difficult to think of as having more common sense than God gave a goose. This is a time for prayer and care, and going back to washing hands and wearing masks. Please take care of yourself – we need you.
Word for the day: mistigris. Pronounced with the emphasis on the last syllable, mist-eh-GREE, the word comes from the Old French, which originally meant, “gray cat,” or “peasant.” Both common and unremarkable things in the French world.
However, “mistigris” has the irony of being the true name for Joker, or sometimes the blank card in a pack of cards. It was especially used first in a card game in which either the joker or the jack of clubs would be the wild card. Nowadays, in any poker game, when the joker is wild, it’s known as the mistigris. The irony is found in that, while the word means simply a peasant or a stray cat, as a card, it is the most powerful card in the deck – even better than an ace, and it can change its place at will. When we see something as having little value, if we aren’t careful, we may be holding a mistigris by mistake…
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.