Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Annunciations and Vaccinations and Signs of All Sorts

What a strange week--and it's only Tuesday.  Yesterday morning, I made this tweet:  "I could write about white men, guns, and mass shootings, but others will do that and with more passion. I will write about Palm Sunday and the path to Good Friday--which brings us back to white men with power and those in the path who are harmed."  Later, I did turn that idea into a post for my theology blog.

Stunning to realize it's the second mass shooting in a week.  It's enough to make me snarky about being out of lockdown, and how maybe we shouldn't let everyone out.

It's also been the kind of week where I think about more ancient ideas of death and the powers of death circling in a malevolent way.  My aunt has gone into hospice care for a newly discovered tumor that is cancer.  The mother of a childhood friend has been fighting esophageal cancer.  I remember running to her house in 7th grade.  I had accidently put a rubber tray in the oven.  Why would I do such a thing?  It looked identical to a cookie sheet and was stored with them.  When I saw the melting pan, I couldn't figure out what to do.  My friend's mother knew what to do.  I hope she wins this current fight, but I know the odds are stacked against her.

I got the news of my friend's mother on Monday morning, and earlier that morning, I heard about the death of poet Adam Zagajewski.  I first discovered him decades ago, when I found his poem "Try to Praise the Mutilated World" in an Intro to Lit anthology.  Sadly, throughout the decades, that poem continues to teach well.  We continue to have the kind of news like we did later on Monday, the news of the shooting with multiple dead in a grocery store in Boulder.  

But Monday was also a day of getting vaccine appointments.

Yesterday I realized that those vaccine appointments are on the feast day of the Annunciation.  I did some sketching, which I may write more about later.  This morning, I woke up with a poem in my brain, about the time just after the Annunciation, and the poem just came out mostly fully formed.  That almost never happens, particularly not these days.

It's also been the kind of week where I have that mental whiplash that comes from being safe and careful, pandemic or no pandemic, but surrounded by people who are not being safe and careful.  As Monday night went into Tuesday, I finally got a good night's sleep, in part because we kept the windows closed.  For several nights before, I had awakened to squealing tires and revving motors.  Has my street become a drag racing gathering spot?  And if so, why?

It's a week of lots and lots of traffic, even on residential streets, as we see all sorts of strange stories of Spring Break in Miami Beach--more occasions to be snarky about lockdowns and how maybe we should have stayed in lockdown. Last year, the South Florida tourist season came to a fast finish as the pandemic closed in.  I do understand how we are a tourist economy, but I was not sorry to see the on season switch to off.

It's been the kind of week where I keep stumbling across reminders of what we've lost.  For example, I opened a paper box in my office and found not paper, not recycling of used paper, but cans of soda.  It took my brain a few seconds to process the bright red, silver, and green of the cans of Coke products where I had been expecting white scraps of paper.

I remember stashing the cans away when we had extra, and I wanted to save them for the next New Student Orientation.  I knew that I needed to hide them, and I had run out of space under my desk.  Why did I need to hide them?  Otherwise, my colleagues would help themselves.

Now our Admissions reps have gone to the Ft. Lauderdale campus, along with most other colleagues, and we're not having the kind of New Student Orientations the result in an abundance of soda.  Our campus is closing, so even if we get the pandemic under control enough to have those kinds of gatherings again, it will probably be too late for my campus.

A slow motion closing of a campus brings a unique kind of grieving, but maybe it's much more similar to the kind of grieving we've all been doing in this past year.  Let me ponder that, while I shift my morning into the high gear of getting ready for the day.

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