I have always loved the word serendipity.
It has a gently joyful sound, and makes me expect good things. Things like putting on your winter coat for the first cold day of the season, and finding a forgotten twenty in the pocket.
But this week’s serendipity has left a heavy, melancholy residue that the gray, chilly, rainy day is multiplying x 10.
Yesterday’s rainy Saturday had me feeling a little sad and melancholy anyway, as it was some real foreshadowing of the cold rainy days to come. It is a vulnerable and scary time of year for a lone farmer of modest means, and the fear of something can feel as bad as actually being mired in the action of the scary thing.
So, backdrop set, early, early this morning, blanketed up with a steamy cuppa coffee, I scrolled through facebook and the news. And seriously? That is where I go wrong every time. I really need to stop doing that.
Weirdly, my Saturday melancholy began with an episode of This American Life that I listened to while I ran a couple errands. It was complete, absolute serendipity.
I listen on a random basis, and this is just what came up next. Titled Before The Next One, it is about school shootings. It contains a few moments that literally make you gasp for air.
Next, I see, holy shit, we have had a mass shooting in Pittsburgh!! My city, my mother’s old stomping grounds, home. And oh my, the emotional response to the comments, the media, the new things I have learned about where haters congregate, and being forced to know that said haters exist in plain sight and are likely to be standing in line next to me at the grocery store.
The shooting took place at the Tree Of Life synagogue. I don’t know what pile of sand I have had my head in, but I also learned Saturday that anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen significantly since 2017, and that the Rabbi of the Tree Of Life had already prepared for this possibility by meeting with experts and the Department of Homeland Security because he feared for his congregation’s safety.
Never once have I ever felt that need about my own church, and I am willing to bet few of my Christian American friends have either.
All of this is happening against the backdrop of my week’s reading. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings about growing up black in America’s South during racially tumultuous times, and the truly amazing Facebook/Instagram series about Rwanda genocide survivors by Humans of NY.
And then, the final, most melancholy straw. My Facebook friend, who I will not name, shared a very personal post of something that happened during her shift as a server in a California diner. Here is her post:
I greeted the guests, took their drink order, answered the questions, joked with the baby, walked away after they were immersed in their menus… I was carrying the tray with drinks when my GM stopped me and told me they requested another server, complaining that I walked away. I was confused, but whatever they want, right? (I am bit hard of hearing – it’s hereditary – so it’s possible that they called after me and I did not hear them).
My friend took over, brought the tray with drinks to the table and they told her to DUMP EVERYTHING I TOUCHED. I know I should not take it personally, but it was uncalled for, it was rude, it was disrespectful and I felt dirty.
Another vignette I can use in a book:)”
My Facebook friend, the beautiful woman serving your eggs and coffee, is one of the most literate, educated, and kind people, and her grace and thoughtfulness shines through in her every post. She also happens to be from Czechoslovakia. You figure it out.
Anyway, what’s all this got to do with the price of (pastured, laid by happy free roaming hens) eggs?
I’m not sure, to be honest. It was just a weird smashup of synchronistic and thematically matched difficult truths, and I’m not really sure what to make of it. Except that more than ever, I feel very called to build something new.
After I’m finished with my cry.
Something small, something that celebrates this place and this time, something right-sized and extending warm hugs to all. Something lovely and personal without venture capital dollars, or franchises. Something like a farm!
Is there any better way to tumble barriers, and break the ice than sharing local food traditions? Which adds one more blow to the week’s synchronicity – I miss Anthony Bourdain more than ever. Anthony knew what to do.
So, let’s do it people. Make something, share something, take some soup to your elderly solitary neighbor, lend a hand to a young person in need of a mentor, clean something, fix something, gather with like minded people. Let’s make those thoughts and prayers real people.
You know what to do.