Follow by Email

Sunday, November 8, 2020

 

Well, assuming Trump's lawsuits and recounts don't provide what would truly be a dramatic shift . . . I muse, as a History grad, on one truth that seems to be understated (at the least):

Never before in American history has a president presiding over what had been a booming economy, record employment, and some rather impressive diplomatic and trade successes (pre-Covid, albeit) -- LOST a second term.

Other than the virus, what is the one factor that might have made the difference Tuesday? While the GOP platform's n pro-life and economic policies, secure borders, etc., likely found resonance with most or at least many Americans, Trump's character -- so crudely displayed, even while being the epitome of narcissistic (if inarticulate "bigly" as Donald would say) hyperbole and outright lies -- ultimately made HIM, not his administration's policies and accomplishments, the primary issue for too many Americans.

I realize that's a rather harsh assessment to some of my friends on the right, and not harsh enough to acquaintances on the left. Of course, we certainly saw widespread corruption, dishonesty, and cynical (tacit and intentional) use of the to-often-destructive mobs usurped by the extreme left over the summer.

But in the end, no one individual -- in particular not Joe Biden and Kamala Harris -- could fit into the spotlight of disgust Trump largely, if not completely, earned.

Was there unfair, biased reporting about the campaign, even unfettered open support by the news media for one party over another? Oh, yes. Was there voting fraud? Certainly, there always is, but was 2020's fraud any more widespread than that in past elections? That remains to be seen, and recounts and litigation may yet show the truth of that, or put the fears largely to rest.

But in the end, Trump's character, IMHO, will be seen as the tipping point. Historians likely will someday conclude that a vote for Biden and Harris in 2020 was, perhaps more often than not, a vote against Trump's public persona.

And be sure that persona was built at least as much by Trump's own actions/Tweets as a news media that, undoubtedly, lost its collective mind and shredded what was left of its journalistic integrity.

A 16th-century Irish proverb warns that it is, "Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know." The idea is that as bad as it might be with the present person or situation, what comes along to replace him, or it, might be even worse.

We'll see.



Friday, October 23, 2020

Book review: “Healing Your Wounded Soul: Growing from Pain to Peace"

 

    In his new book, “Healing Your Wounded Soul: Growing from Pain to Peace,” Fr. Joshua Makoul masterfully blends Eastern Orthodox Christianity’s ancient ascetical wisdom with complementary insights from modern psychotherapy to offer hope to those emotionally – and spiritually -- crippled by painful memories of abuse, rejection, and shame.

      It is a mission for which Makoul, dean of the St. George Cathedral in Pittsburgh and veteran certified counselor with academic degrees in Psychology, is well-qualified. His straightforward, crisp, and thought-provoking writing style builds a solid foundation of understanding such therapeutic concepts such as “relationship trauma,” “transference” of past pain to present experiences, and “projection” of our own faults onto others.

     None of those psychological frameworks are left to stand alone, however. Fr. Makoul consistently illuminates them with the light of faith. Introspection, for example – so stressed by secular therapists as key to unearthing the origins of debilitating behaviors – has been key to the Eastern Orthodox path to theosis (the eternal goal of the faithful “to become by grace what God is by nature,” as Fr. Makoul explains).

     This holy introspection, a core teaching of the Desert Fathers’ “science of the soul,” is the key to spiritual—and arguably emotional – healing echoed in the teachings of the saints for millennia. As St. Isaac of Syria – one of numerous Desert Fathers mined by Fr. Makoul – put it, “Enter eagerly into the treasure house that is within you, and you will see things that are in heaven – for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the Kingdom is hidden within your soul.”

     What Fr. Makoul’s book is not, is a self-help tome with specific quick fixes for those memories and errant coping habits that may cripple the reader’s present. Rather, it helps the reader acquire clearer perspective and understanding of self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors – and with those insights, to be ready for true healing.

     Start with a visit to your parish priest and/or spiritual father; he may, in addition to his grounding in the Faith, have also been trained in counseling – or be able to refer you to a network of “faith-friendly” therapists.

     For anyone struggling with painful memories, and the negative behaviors spawned by them that can damage present relationships with God and others – or those who have loved ones suffering such emotional injuries and their aftermath – I strongly recommend  “Healing Your Wounded Soul: Growing from Pain to Peace.”

Monday, August 17, 2020

"Big In Heaven" review: At St. Alexander the Whirling Dervish Orthodox Church, saints have dirty faces

 

Growing up poor in a Protestant Evangelical Pentecostal preacher's family, I learned at an early age the meaning of "hypocrisy" long before I knew how to spell the word itself. 

 I found it in the hard eyes of those self-styled super spiritual guides populating the church board, who would weekly dissect the doctrinal nuances of Dad's sermons, and Dad himself if they could, even as they insisted his paltry salary should be enough to live on. 

 That he drove a school bus part-time while Mom worked as a waitress or in sales at J.C. Penney was a scandal! After all, the drafty old parsonage with a coal furnace that tended to cough up black smoke through the vents in the heart of winter may not be perfect, but it was free. 


 The nerve! After all, with a crippled and retarded daughter in his family, the pastor was indeed blessed to get the pulpit in any church teaching faith healing! Girl's not healed, after all. Pastor's faith must be lacking.


 So, I was surprised to find some painful, yet oddly inspiring similarities in the short stories penned by Fr. Stephen Sinari in his book "Big In Heaven." The tales of Fr. Naum and the all-too-human, sometimes saintly diamonds in the rough who comprise St. Alexander the Whirling Dervish Orthodox Church and the ethnic Philadelphia neighborhood it serves, are fictional. They are also true.


 In the four years since I was baptized into the Eastern Orthodox faith, I've learned our Truth is not limited to history and dogma but shines forth in parables, allegories and the stylized stories that buoy the holiness and sacrifices of our those saints and martyrs populating our icon walls and temples. The same is true for the characters Fr. Stephen shares.


 Still, I suspect that much in "Big In Heaven" borders on the autobiographical. After all, the author is an OCA priest whose nearly 40 years of ministry have spanned inner-city parish pastoral callings as well as extensive work on the streets serving the homeless, and at-risk and trafficked teens.


 "Big In Heaven" makes anyone with faith, and particularly those raised in or converted into Orthodoxy, consider anew the unfathomable depths of God's mercy and grace to his soiled children, staggering toward personal Golgothas and the hope of salvation and theosis.


 It was early in the book, where Fr. Stephen introduces Curtis, "an altar server who new the Liturgy in a way not even [Fr.] Naum could understand." Curtis "knew when to have the censer ready, how to cut the bread for the nafora, when to light the candles, how to ready the boys for the processions, when to boil the water for the chalice, even the best way to hold the cloth at Communion time."


 Curtis, Naum's bishop had once remarked, was the best server he had ever seen. This same Curtis, a 35-year-old born with Down syndrome deemed unworthy of believer's baptism at a local Protestant church due to his handicaps, but welcomed into Orthodoxy.


 Fr. Stephen's writes of a parishioner, seeing Curtis donning a hand-me-down cassock to enter the altar and serve, declaring: "Curtis is a genius over there, in heaven."


 That declaration brought tears to my eyes, and I remembered the childlike, halting voice of my now 70-year-old sister, rocking and holding a doll while singing "Jesus loves me, this I know . . . ."


 I highly recommend this book with one minor caveat: In future reprintings, how about some additiional parenthetical or by footnote definitions or context for the "inside Orthodoxy" and liturgical terms used from Greek or Slavonic languages?


Monday, June 29, 2020

Black Lives Matter. Absolutely. But the BLM Foundation may have far deeper agenda

"Black Lives Matter?" Absolutely.

The phrase and its intent to draw focus to the plague of racism, is not debatable. It's even honorable.

But BlackLivesMatter Foundation, the organization, goes way beyond that. It's stated foundational and core values embrace a whole lot more than laudatory racial justice.
I wept when he was martyred. His message of peace endures

Indeed, it is not too much to argue that its online mission statement, on display in the organization's "About" section (https://blacklivesmatter.com/what-we-believe/) seems to suggest abandoning the traditional family unit in favor of some sort of "village/utopian nursery; a sort of "woke" bigotry when it comes to law enforcement, the justice and economic systems; and a communal mindset that reminds this student of history (and child of the Sixties) of Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution.

And, as recent statements from BLM leadership has indicated, there is no room for orthodox Christianity in this new global village, unless it is a faith devoid of moral pillars in areas of abortion, marriage, family, and by extension, sacramental standards. (https://www.gotquestions.org/black-lives-matter.html)

It is part of a trend, a social and cultural devolution that has accelerated over the past decade as materialism, situational ethics, and other "progressive" tenets have captured and enslaved the Western souls of many.

It is no longer a matter of loving individuals, even as you do not sign on to their choices in matters of political, religious, or sexual attraction. Now, you must, to be on the "right side of history," ignore the millennia of human history and culture that has preceded us on what was generally known to be Natural Law and Nature's God.

You no longer are allowed to "agree to disagree." Differences of opinion are "hate speech," and what defines "free speech" has become an Orwellian conundrum. Biology? Na. It is not your genitalia that determine your sexual identity, in the biological sense . . . that, despite our living in an age of "scientific truth," is an exception.

You are what you feel.

You may smile, shrug, and say you while you don't share that illusion, you still value such individuals as friends and co-workers. Not good enough today. No room for disagreement, that's "hate speech". You are bullied online, and occasionally in the physical world, too, to buy into altered reality, or you are a "transphobic" bigot, and should be "canceled."

Perhaps one day, that term will come to have a darker, deadly meaning. After all, the Nazis spoke of "resettlement" and meant death camps. Soviet, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese Communism spoke of "re-education" and killed millions of dissidents in prison camps.

If you prefer to persist with the idea of marriage being between a male and a female, and two-parent families as the preferred norm -- previously a no-brainer for all of recorded history? It's no longer allowed to respectfully disagree; you must now promote and endorse the opposite of your convictions . . . or you are a "homophobic" fascist.

Those too young to remember -- or in the case of a new generation of American youth, those who were never taught about history's dark lessons by those ironically designated "free thinkers" who educated them -- seem doomed to repeat the errors of the past, to unearth failed social schemes from the dust bin of history.

So, back to Black Lives. Who can argue with the pure meaning of the phrase? As a grandfather of four bi-racial grandkids, for whom I would willingly give my own life, of course! I hate the climate where my son-in-law has been repeatedly stopped for jogging or driving "while being black," by police who first seen skin color -- not his U.S. Army Captain's bars, or his advanced medical degrees.

I don't want my grandkids to grow up in a world where they, too, will be judged first by the color of their skin before an authority figure learns of the content of their character.

So, yes, peacefully protest injustice. But if you are thinking of donating to BLM, make sure ALL is stands for -- beyond the phrase itself -- is clear to you. Be informed.

Your choice, of course.

As for myself, I will not give to BLM, the organization. Rather, I will seek out local and specifically focused programs not polluted by a potpourri of socially destructive and anti-democratic, and yes bigoted causes trying to hop aboard.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Remembering Mom: an end to mourning, a bitter-sweet celebration of mercy

Hard to believe it has been a year since my mother, Katherine, passed away.

June 17, after having called aloud in delight for her own mother, she "reposed," as we Orthodox Christians say. And, a year later, I see that moment of her leaving us as a blessing -- ending the confusion and haze of final-stage Alzheimer's disease, the physical pain of one unable to speak or understand speech, walk, or care for herself in the most basic manner.

But she knew love and knew how to give love to the end of her 91 and a half years. She could still smile, and raucously laugh, and cry tears sometimes of pain, other times of joy she could not otherwise express.

As dawn turned the sky silver over the Jordan River this morning -- candles lit, a ribbon of burning incense drifting up toward a small photo of her nestled amid icons of Christ, His Mother, and an assortment of saints in my home prayer corner -- I recited the ancient Akathist to Jesus for Those Who Have Fallen Asleep.

I had offered this same prayer for 40 days following her death last year, as I had for my father when he had passed away six months before. And as I had done for my father, Robert Sr., on the one year anniversary of his repose, I prayed for Katherine.

There were, again, some tears for me. There also was peace and hope.





Friday, June 5, 2020

Hate harvests hate: the innocent get lost in the confusion and rage


My daughter's faith and core human decency makes me feel proud, and humble. A bitter irony exposed here is that racism, hatred and misunderstanding seem to plague all human beings -- white, black, brown, almond, whatever. We fear the "Other."

Hate harvests hate. Violence begets violence. The innocent get lost in the confusion and rage.

This is what she posted about an incident in Baltimore:

"My heart is grieved. The protests and violence erupting from so much oppression and evil leaves me speechless. I talk often with my husband on how to raise our children in a godly way, being kind, respectful, loving and merciful. But now it's time to pollute their innocence in explaining racism.
"God gave me a heart for diversity and empathy for marginalized communities...yet, I am scared to speak out. I want to join the protests, calling out social injustice everywhere for my black brothers, sisters and family members, my many friends with different shades of brown and yet, as a mother of 3 biracial children and a handsome and God fearing black husband, I fear that doing so may put a bullseye target on their heads.
"I went to clear my head on a walk with Lilly. As I was heading home I saw two police cars and a firetruck in the middle of the road. Some neighbors were out on the porch watching. I slowed down to look. There was a single African American man across the road going back and forth between the sidewalk and median yelling at the police.
"My first thought was l, "I hope no one is hurt and I hope the police are respecting his rights."
"As he yelled at them about someone calling the police for walking in his own neighborhood, he zeroed in on me. Pointing with a cell phone in his hand, he said something about me. He returned to the other side of the road and shouted, "I'm gonna kill you. Yeah, you with the white dog. You love that dog more than you love a human being!"
I called back, "I'm so sorry for your pain. God bless you brother." He kept screaming "Black Lives Matter!" All I could say was "yes".
"Maybe he thought I called the police, maybe I was just an easy target being the only other white person on the street besides the police and maybe there was some mental illness as well.
"Nonetheless, as I walked around the corner to enter my home the back way, I realized I was not scared nor did I feel threatened, but seeing one police car remained to observe him leaving as the other squad car and fire truck left, I was reassured. I had just lived my white privilege.
"My heart sank when I returned home. My husband, daughter and I joined hands and prayed for the man, the police and our family. I know our God is a just God but allows the testing of our faith to build perseverance. This situation is truly senseless.
"My daughter was recently called "mixed breed" by an old white woman. She has endured discrimination in school simply for being biracial. She was accused of stealing on a bus when she found a purse left behind and took it to the bus driver. The school principal didn't ask any questions, just assumed her guilt because she was angry at being falsely accused.
"My husband has told me how his father prepared him to survive by having "the talk" about staying under the radar, not jogging on the street, carrying his lab coat or Army uniform in the car and learning how to stand his ground without retaliating. As he explained that our 5 and 6 year old sons need to learn that our society will not view them as anything more than third class citizens, I cried.
"My prayer for this world is to repent, humble ourselves to God and that the Lord will return quickly."

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Our faux peace: Whether in protests and flames, or parks and flowers, the hate lurks


Just got back from a morning walk in Murray Park, getting in my steps before the heat of the day.

While winding through paths alongside snowmelt-filled streams, flower beds, and enjoying the breeze and sunlight streaming through elms, maples, and evergreen trees, my faux peace was shattered by a drama playing out about 50 feet away on the street leading into the park.

Amid the past few days of riots and destruction nationwide, including in nearby Salt Lake City, it was the kind of scene that makes you stop: Police officers were slowing closing in on an agitated black man in his early 20s. The officers approached with their hands out, seeking to reassure the youth, even as they obviously feared the situation could go awry at any moment.

Another young black man, jogging shirtless, came to a halt next to me and we both watched. Nearby, a middle-aged Latina pulled out her smart phone and began taking video. An ambulance and squad car came to a halt nearby.

The tension was thick. Please, God, not another George Floyd incident, was the unspoken thought and prayer.

"What's going on here?" I mumbled to myself. The jogger answered that he knew.

Turned out he had called 911 because the person of interest, by now talking quietly but still visibly distraught, was being calmed by a paramedic, and two police officers. The jogger said that other man had approached him earlier, saying he "had to do something" about police brutality, and saying he was seeing too many white people in the park.

"I feel for my own people with what's happening," the jogger said. "But I feel for all people right now. He was talking all over the place [and] I thought he was about to hurt people, so I called.”

We shared a bit more, the jogger and I, as we continued to watch the police peacefully (thank God) gently take the young man toward the ambulance, perhaps to get him medical or psychiatric help.

I told my new jogging friend about how I worried for my grandchildren in Baltimore, where someday they may run afoul of a police officer for no reason other than their brown skins.  I had the same concern for their Cameroonian father, a naturalized citizen proud of military service as an Army Reserve Captain in the medical corps. Would my daughter, his wife and mother of my grandsons, likewise be targeted for her paler ancestry?

Here in Utah, where white supremacists have occasionally raised their ugly heads, I also worried for my daughter-in-law and grandson, both of Mexican heritage, amid this plague of mindless hate. 

He nodded. He, too, worried about family. We agreed that such hate made no sense. 

We stood quietly then, a few moments more. It was a snapshot of unity. Finally, we smiled sadly at each other and, after wishing each other safety, walked away.



Friday, May 29, 2020

Our broken hearts: Where hope flees, riots and madness fill the vacuum

Violence, looting and arson engulfed Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and other cities this week, played out in endlessly recycled video clips of mob madness on our screens.

And we wonder, "Why?"

The myopic, yet narrowly accurate answer is that -- in scenes echoing such civil breakdowns in past years and decades -- a handful of criminal opportunists can quickly turn peaceful protests into riots, steering the desperate masses into acts they will later individually regret . . . while the thugs sparking it all could not care less.

But history teaches us that wherever trust, justice, hope, and mutual respect are absent, anger and madness waits to fill the vacuum. And this has been true for all ethnicities, racial strife, political rage, religious hatred sadly being universally human (https://www.brainz.org/riots/). 

Now, we see black faces, twisted in rage over the death of another African-American man fatally injured during an arrest exhibiting excessive force. But look beyond the sensational, incendiary in themselves clips on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, et al, and you also will see faces of our brothers and sisters sobbing amid those truly mean streets; others scream in impotent angst; some pray, and most deplore their legitimate grievances being hijacked by violence and destruction  . . . mayhem that undercuts the message we should hear.

This is not a new pattern in America. In the late 1960s, riots scourged Chicago, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Kansas City. Louisville and many other cities. At their roots were racial oppression, segregation, and economic hopelessness in the slums, ignited by grief and anger after Martin Luther King Jr. -- the prophet of non-violent protest -- was gunned down. 

Mixed into this cauldron, too, were anti-Vietnam War protests. And again, given human nature, non-violent protests morphed into darkness as mobs picked up rocks, sticks, Molotov cocktails, and firearms to battle police, and to "burn baby, burn," as the cry went at the time.

And here we are, half a century later. Trillions of dollars spent on education, jobs, urban development, welfare, anti-gang programs, wars on drugs, etc., etc. Technological advances and social engineering unheralded in modern history. So much has changed.

And yet, so much has not changed at all. For this truth remains, as it has from the beginning of humanity: our hearts are broken. That "image of God" we bear is tainted too often by our choices of pride over humility, materialism over charity, offense over forgiveness, hatred over understanding.

When no one listens, the desperate scream louder. Unaddressed pain and injustice eventually will bring anarchy and the Abyss, that dark chasm Nietzsche warned stares back at those who gaze into it for too long.

True for individuals. True for communities, for nations, and for civilizations.

Lord have mercy, we repeatedly pray in services at my Orthodox Christian parish church.

We all need that mercy. And we all must somehow learn to give it to our fellow flawed humans, as well.









Friday, May 1, 2020

Finding the beauty in the time of Covid-19 . . . around us, and in us

As a 5-year-old, I plucked a flower, delighted by its glowing yellow and white leaves and sweet scent -- it's very life -- and raced inside from the backyard to the kitchen, where I proudly presented it to my mother.

It just seemed right to present that flower, that fragile discovery of beauty, to the most loving and most beautiful person I had known in my then short life. (That an Orb-weaver spider dangled from it's stem was a development Mom handled with aplomb, and a quick shake of mycgft outside the back door).

Throughout my ensuing years as a child, teen and young man, I courted beauty and wonder by playing and later backpacking amid the creeks, brooks and rivers of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho's mountain meadows, forests, and wilderness expanses.

The vibrant cycles of life in nature -- its unfathomable (to me, anyway) variety in living art, form, purpose and even the very fact of such intricate existence -- filled me with peace and a sense  of belonging to something inconceivably bigger than me.

Now, six weeks out from my 67th ride on Earth's circuit of Old Sol, I'm finally learning that every day spent in beauty -- where sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste cascade in sum to inform and overwhelms a sixth sense of wonder -- brings contemplation, meditation, prayer and grateful worship of the Creator of it, and us all.

This is my purpose in life. Maybe yours, too?

As an Orthodox Christian, I celebrate finding such observations are many in my faith's two millennia of saintly sages' visionary revelations, hymns and prayers. These works of theirs still echo those sentiments of wonder and gratitude today, with wisdom, awe, and love deeper and purer as both personal, and metaphysical prose and poetry that I cannot approach.

Still, to taste and express even something of the same epiphanies? And to share them? Personally priceless.

This is the time of Covid-19 and self-isolation, but if we will accept it, also the opportunity for stretching perception to discover the universe contained in a flower, bird, insect, or the way water falls over a mountain stream's rocks -- or on the face of a child, parent, a passing stranger, and yes, even in the heart belonging to that person in the mirror.

I know that beauty in nature, the cosmos, and the potential for growing it within as we see it cultivated and present in others, is a Truth that finds expression beyond Orthodox Christianity. Indeed, to varying degrees, it reverberates in myriad other religions and philosophies that seemingly draw on a primordial concept of humankind.

One of many such examples: "Beauty in front of me, Beauty behind me, Beauty above me, Beauty below me, Beauty all around me, I walk in Beauty," the Diné (Navajo) elders have prayed from pre-historic times.

While appreciating and treasuring such universal expression of seminal truths, personally, I find them most fully and clearly conveyed within my own faith.

"In Him we live, and breathe, and have our being," St. Paul wrote (Acts 17:28). "O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who are everywhere present and fillest all things," Orthodox Christians intone, echoing the apostle in the daily Trisagion prayers.

But wherever you are in matters of faith, refocusing your gaze from our failed, manufactured "reality" of ego, entertainment, work, etc., to what exists independently of all that -- both around us, and within us -- is what our current crisis offers each of us.

And that is too good to pass up.



Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Senior Hour Treasure Hunt at CostCo, or the Quest for Toilet Paper (for your) Booty

Well, some things are just impossible lately to get shopping online for pickup or delivery.
So, I tied on the homemade polyester-blend T-shirt mask Barbara crafted for me (and, Lysoling the sucker inside and out beforehand) -- and donning some plastic janitorial gloves -- drove to CostCo at the b**tcrack of dawn for "senior shopping hour."
I got there at 7:20 a.m., well before the official 8-9 a.m. Golden Years hour . . . and still was eighth in line. Tape marked off 6-foot intervals stretching from the entrance down the side of the building, and into the distance horizons, out of sight.
By 8 a.m., all those social-distancing berths were filled; the queue stretched around the warehouse, behind it, and was nearing a full circumnavigation of CostCo.
There were surgical masks, dust masks, dish towel masks, knee socks masks, and not a few underwear and T-shirt masks; gloves like mind, white dinner/butler gloves, driving gloves, work gloves, and a few folks who had wrapped their hands in sanitizing wipes.
A few people smiled -- I think they smiled, from the crinkled eyes -- but most were silent, and tense. I felt especially sad for some frail, octogenarian women and shuffling elderly (well, more elder than myself) couples who wore near-dispair like a quivering, dark aura.
Fear. This is what we have come to, as Covid-19 and its seemingly increasing isolation, restrictions, shortages -- and uncertain future for our social institutions, civil rights, and economy -- weighs more heavily. The 15-day plan became the 30-day plan and now, some warn, could stretch through summer.

Once inside, the first thing this serpentine procession of seniors saw as a smiling employee parceling out the allowed "one only" 30-roll megapack of Scott toilet paper. Plop, roll the cart 6 feet. Plop. Roll the cart 6 more feet. Plop . . . .
I added a 12-pack of off-brand paper towels next. Then some hand soap. A few grocery items. Oddly enough, couldn't find orange juice -- frozen or liquid -- anywhere.
The pace inside was glacial as it was surreal. The 6-foot rule was a challenge to observe, with people suddenly stopping to gaze at their cellphones, or just standing with confused, tired looks.
Not an experience I would want to repeat anytime soon, but it was nice to be able to find something to . . . well, you know.
Oh, did I mention the on-site security? Two large Pacific Islander guards, each easily 300-pounds and 6-foot-3, 4, watched the crowd outside.
Nary a graybeard in queue challenged them, though they did turn away a few younger types trying to enter the store during the Hour.
I know this experience was traumatic emotionally for some people in line (I passed the period listening to Eikona chant the daily Orthodox Prayers on my iPhone) . . . but compared to the chaotic conditions in other countries due to Covid-19 right now, we have things easy.
We need to remember that, right? And this will end.
As for the aftermath, the impact on future pandemic preparations -- and how much this all has further weakened our freedoms of movement, association, privacy, even, some say, religion -- remains to be seen.