by Carole Reardon
She’s young, petite, and African American, with sparkling eyes rimmed with dark, curly lashes. They are always smiling, those lovely eyes, light-brown leaning towards amber. She’s an Essential Worker, and it’s usually she who loads my groceries into my trunk, then hands me the eggs for the safety of the front seat. I tip her every time I pick up; it’s all I can do to thank her for taking the pandemic hit I am unwilling to.
I wonder about the number of people she sees every day. Are they kind? Do they make eye-contact and let her see smiling eyes? Make sure to inject feeling in the perfunctory, “Have a good day” so it sounds authentic? Are they cognizant of how hard she’s working, in Texas heat, and how lucky they are? Or are they scared, or busy and un-attentive, dismissing her as in the pre-pandemic days, someone necessary but beneath their notice?
We’re seeing who is essential now: grocery clerks, meat cutters, produce pickers, gas station attendants, EMTs, doctors and nurses. Also, each other. If we’re going to get through this, we will do it together, with God’s help, and the liberal distribution of essential kindness wherever we go.
It’s easy to let our emotions overwhelm us, especially in historic times. This is why it is vital we center ourselves in something sure, in hope, in God’s word, and Jesus’ life and the promise of life everlasting.
Psalm 91, appointed for this evening, seems written for our time, just look at these first few lines,
1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, *
abides under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 He shall say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my stronghold, *
my God in whom I put my trust.”
3 He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He shall cover you with his pinions, and you shall find refuge under his wings; *
his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.
5 You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, *
nor of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, *
nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
7 A thousand shall fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, *
but it shall not come near you.
Prayer is an Essential Worker. Study of Scripture is our sure shield and buckler. I am finding both necessary, lest my fear overwhelm my kindness.
Be kind out there, to your loved ones, yourself, and by the way – tip those curbside grocery clerks, too.
Carole Reardon is a blogger and photographer in North Central Texas. She attends St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Prosper.