Grocery Shopping as a Spiritual Practice

little girl holding two fresh pineapples
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My hair, overdue for a cut at the start of stay-at-home orders in late March,  is at the annoying point of growing out where it’s long enough to fall into my eyes at will, but too short to pull back or put up in a clip. I negotiated Oakley’s time without daycare courtesy of extra walks and many games of “find it.”  A lack of yoga classes has worked its way into my soul and festered some days.  And this year, the big one for both of us: Ren Faire.

In the grand scheme of things, in light of what others endure on a daily basis, my complaints are quite petty. Inhale, exhale with a sigh, release. But wait, there’s more:

The absolutely most challenging thing: not shopping for groceries in person, even locally. I shop for food (and books)  with the giddy abandon with which some people shop for clothes. The places where I love shopping are all near the yoga studio, but since they closed the physical doors in March, grocery runs there are a no-go since I have no other reason to run into town.* We’ve been ordering curbside from (aak) Wal-Mart or produce from the mom-and-pop place en route to Oakley’s day care.

In these times and by ordering curbside, a customer must relinquish control to an extent. I hate that. I want the sensory experience of shopping, the visuals of the fruit and veggies, the way the fruit or tomatoes feel in my hands as I slide them into the bag. And I want to know that it’s the best that I can get.

I’ve had better than expected luck with (aak) Wal-Mart.  I hated setting up yet another account. I’m not a huge fan of their corporate policies, but they are one of the bigger employers in the area, and actually make positive contributions to the community such as health fairs and hiring differently abled people.

Sometimes you just have to suck it up and surrender to the facts and the situation: no vaccine yet, too many shoppers ignoring social distancing and mask wearing, and that Hubby was squeamish about me going into stores with anything less than a hazmat suit, 95N mask, and face shield.  So I did. And was pleasantly surprised by their selection of organic products at decent prices, and the house brand chocolate.

For the most part, I’ve had good luck. I’ve only had two problems, one with oranges that had gone bad from the middle of the bag, and one from the mom and pop store with a tray of tomatoes that had turned sour and watery (my only bitch about their produce is that they prepackage everything and it’s hard to tell if something is going to go bad or not just by looking).

Whether I’m clicking and pointing, or able to shop in person, I always ask the Mystery to bless all those who brought it my way, everyone from the associate who arranged the displays or pulled what I needed for me to the trucker who brought it to the store to the farmer and workers who grew it. Since I am not adept enough with gardening to be self sufficient in the food department, I am deeply grateful to all involved, both for getting it on my table and for pulling it on my behalf in these times.

Another round of lessons in gratitude, acceptance, and surrender. These days are just a sliver of forever, and the faint glimmer on the horizon will grow into a sunrise of better days ahead.

Until then, my favorite farmer’s market opens up this weekend. I think a trip there is in order to tide me over in the mean time. With appropriate gear worn, of course.

 

*I make an effort to piggyback as many errands as I can into trips that way to conserve gas.

 

 

The Grace of the Grandmothers

 

 

woman holding pan with food
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It’s a cold but clear still early morning here in the soybean field. I took Oakley for a quick run around the house just now. A little earlier I did yoga for the morning. I’m on my second cup of tea.

While it might sound pretty normal, it shapes up to be another infamous day in my life’s timeline. In an attempt to stave off the spread of COVID-19, the state of Illinois will be under  a mandatory stay at home order (as in shelter in place) at 5 PM tonight. So far five people have died from it. I don’t recall the number of people who have it, but there is one reported case in my county. We’ll still be able to get out for walks as long as we observe social distancing (staying about six feet apart) and to the grocery store and medical appointments, but for the most part we’ll be working and staying home.

The announcement came during noon news yesterday. I watched the briefing later in the afternoon when Governor Pritzker announced his decision to sign the order. He’d consulted with epidemiologists, statisticians, and public health experts. After last weekend’s blatant disregard of the stay at home suggestions, he had to make it official. Not done lightly because he knew jobs were at stake, but because lives were and those are more important.

So came the news. Not with the collective shock of the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Jr.; not with the gasp of Nixon’s resignation; not with the violent chaos of 9/11. It’s much quieter than that, except for the hoards spilling into the street to binge shop, even though we can do that at leisure over the next couple of weeks.

Well, so be it. My first question to myself was what would my grandmothers have done, what did they do in similar circumstances.

First thing would be make sure there was enough food for everyone. We’d done a big haul/stock up the week before, so Hubby and I are set. I picked my way through traffic  to the pet store where I get Oakley’s food and grabbed a few more bags in case of interruptions in the supply chain. His food is made by a Milwaukee-based company,  so I doubt it, but just for my own peace of mind I went. And found out that pet stores are considered a necessary business and will be open.

Second, touch base with relatives, blood and spirit. We talked to Gram at least once a week (she lived in Massachusetts) and Grandma (across town) daily.  Talked to my brother. He and Sister in Law and kids are fine. Will call my sister later today. Texted with one of my friends last night. All good so far.

Third, engage in spiritual practice. Grandma quietly prayed when she woke up, again at bed time, and as needed through the day. Gram would make coffee, then sit with her prayer book and slide the crystal blue rosary beads through her fingers as she laid her petitions at Mother Mary’s feet. I’ve meditated and done yoga. Spiritual practice doesn’t have to involve a deity of any kind; just engage in some activity that helps you feel connected to the whole.

Fourth, find something enjoyable to occupy your mind. Gram read and knitted bandages for the leper colonies that were still in existence in the post-WWII era. Grandma cooked, crocheted, and listened to the radio. I’ll find something to do. We can and will still get out for walks. And I have a stack of books to be read.

Gram and Grandma survived two world wars, the Spanish flu, and the Great Depression. They went through rationing, scrap collection, watching pennies during the Depression, and a myriad of other things with grace and strength.

I think I can stay home with the same.

 

 

 

Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

 

women s white top and orange floral skirt
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East. Sunrise. As part of my morning rituals, I thank it for fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s at the top of the wheel of the year, signifying spring.

Which arrived, finally, this week. We had a beautiful Monday and Tuesday wasn’t bad. Yesterday and today have been cooler and rainy, but no complaints will be issued after this winter.

Winter is in the west position on the wheel. It is to be thanked as well for the times of rest and stillness. Growth can be forced, as with amaryllis bulbs, but going against nature’s rhythms and cycles has always felt wrong to me.

When the time to break through the ground or wiggle out of the cocoon comes, it comes at its own pace. The need for changes acts as the catalyst for the process just as the alchemy of sunlight and enzymes spur plants to break through the surface of the soil.

For humans, that might mean a change to one’s appearance. I had my hair cut last week. I just couldn’t do long hair anymore. It’s grown finer as I’ve aged and snarls no matter how much conditioner I use. Pulling it up and back made me look older. It’s in a just below chin length bob now with lots of layers to accommodate the natural curl. Even though there’s more silver and grey than brown showing now, I think I look younger, or at least feel that way. If I blow dry it and use a half-tube of product, I can look sleek and sophisticated. If I just scrunch in a dab of curl cream and let it air dry, it springs into its natural ringlets and waves. Hubby said I look like a mad scientist. I will take that as a compliment. Anyway, it’s lovely to run a brush through my hair and not feel like I’m picking apart a piece of felt when I reach the ends.

The other seedling coming to fruition involved buying a ten-pack of classes at a yoga studio in the town where we do our big shops. After a month of arguing with myself about it–ruminating about the 30+minute commute, distance, hassles with parking, weather issues–I just did it. Since the teacher I had studied with decided to move on to other things last year (and the fact that I was the only student showing up most of the time), I had fallen off the yoga wagon. I don’t have the discipline to keep going solo with the YouTube videos. Neither studio here in town is a good fit for me. When I remind myself that it’s an investment in myself, it goes a little easier. Plus I can see a couple of close friends for tea or lunch as a reward. I went to my first class this past Monday. The teacher greeted me warmly and went on to lead one of the best classes I’ve ever taken. I’ve made reservations for two more classes this coming week. I already feel more grounded, centered, and inspired than I have in quite a while.

We worked on tree pose during class. Tree involves balancing on one foot while placing the other foot on the ankle, calf, or thigh of the active leg. You may hold your hands in prayer position at heart level, or reach them towards the sky.

As I wobbled like a willow in the wind storm with my weight on the right foot and left foot on my ankle, I kept reaching for the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

The Tasks at Hand

No, Gentle Reader, it’s not you. We have a full moon coming in this weekend. Good to set aside a few hours to do some decluttering. I’m intending to clean out a couple of cabinets and make a run to Goodwill. Good to recharge your crystals, too. Also optimal to do releasing ceremonies–my personal favorite is to write letters to release toxic feelings, then burn them with sage. Or write them on toilet paper and flush away.

It will also be good to start getting the garden going. At least getting things staked out, or containers lined up to welcome their occupants. Mothers’ Day, the second Sunday in May in the US, is generally considered the safe date to start planting. Any earlier and frost may prove an unwanted visitor.

At the very least, I’ll get some planters for the back step and front porch. I love gardens. I’ve had some luck with indestructible vegetables like zucchini, but with flowers, not so much.

Walks and time at the park with Oakley take the top spot on the list. It has a special urgency this spring. He’s fine. However, Precious, the neighbor dog, is not. When I stopped over earlier this week, she looked as if she didn’t know which side of the veil she was on, and instead of her usual exuberant barking and tail waving, she sat motionless. She’s either developed diabetes or kidney failure in these her later years. She’s lost her vision and most of her hearing. In the last few weeks, her decline has sped up exponentially. Precious was three when they moved in ten years ago. Her humans will be walking her to the Bridge this weekend.

I issued the standard “I’ll be thinking of you” sentiment. If I offered to do what I really want to do (be present, crystal grid, sage, Reiki), there would likely be much consternation. She has her spiritual path, I have mine, and we value the common spaces too much to impose our beliefs on one another.

So I will quietly send Reiki, light some sage, and lay out a grid in my own home. And make a cake.

Believe me, we agree on cake.

Candles at Dusk

In someways, today has been another wonderfully mundane Monday. Warm-ish, and Oaks and I will head out for another walk in the not too distant future if he’s past being annoyed with me. This morning, I streamed Native American music. One of the tracks featured a coyote chorus. Oakley stopped in the middle of breakfast and stared out the back window, then went to the family room and stared at the speakers. I laughed; I couldn’t help it. 

Later this morning, I was running Oakley through his paces. He was in process of a sit when he, uh, passed gas. He whipped around, unsure of the noise’s origin with a confused look on his face. I started laughing uncontrollably. Hubby came downstairs to see what was happening. Oakley gave me a dirty look and crated himself. 

I don’t blame him. I apologized and gave him some extra goat keifer on his lunch. He’ll get some chicken tonight and another apology with extra snuggles. 

In other ways, the fabric of the day has a few dark threads. My thoughts have been with three friends. One has surgery scheduled later this week to repair damage done in a couple of freak falls; one’s mother is in the hospital; one has an elderly dog with pain issues that required stronger analgesics this week. Outside of my immediate circles, there’s the mess in West Virginia with the contamination of the Elk River and the greedy gutlessness that made the company responsible for it declare bankruptcy to avoid having to pay for damages. 

I can’t make the doggy stop hurting. I can’t teleport myself to the hospitals in question to do what I could to offer comfort and solace. I can’t, even though The Great Mystery knows I would love to, make the suits from the mess at the coal washing plant go for a swim in the fouled water or drink it to show how safe it is. 

So I will light a candle at dusk. I hold the match in my fingers–a wooden one. As I hold it, I set the intention that all will be resolved for the highest good of everyone concerned. Then I light it, and the candle, and imagine the light pushing back the darkness.

Is it a prayer, an intention, an incantation? I don’t know what it’s called, but I feel more peaceful when I’m done.