Notes From My Knapsack 4-1-10
Putting Things In Their Proper Place
Not to be mean, or anything like that, but it's kind of amusing to watch my fellow grocery shoppers down at Ross Market, now that the expansion is pretty much rolled out and open.
Some of us take a Delta Force approach to stopping by the store: get in, get out, be noticed by no one other than our target. Even the more leisurely of us have a pattern, a cycle of up one aisle, down the next, weaving through most but maybe skipping the soap & cleanser aisle two out of three weeks.
All of us have had to readjust, and set new patterns, as the dairy and lunchmeat products, "phase two" after produce, have been flung to new corners of the gladiatorial arena, and while the chow mein noodles, dal tadka, and Sriracha hot sauce are still where they "belong," most of the rest of our mental snooze button semi-conscious shopping now must be intentional, and awake, or at least aware.
Chips and crackers? New spot. Tomato paste? Same old spot, but mozzarella: new spot. Connect the spots, and make a wobbly spiral as our new cycle jerks into motion, pulling us from what we thought was the end of our errand, back across our path to go back and get an item we didn't know we only remembered for lo, these many years, because of the thing next to it that caught our awareness. If it isn't there, we daydream or anticipate our way right past the item that brought us to the store in the first place.
We like what we're used to, and what we're used to, we like, even if we don't (or shouldn't) like it, because we're used to it. And if it isn't what we're used to, even when it's better, almost exactly what we'd grumbled ought to be, we grumble that it's been changed, and we don't like it. Poor us!
I can only imagine how the poor Romans must have felt. There they were, 2,000 years ago, accustomed to the idea that when they cruelly executed a dissenter, he stayed dead, and went to anonymity in a borrowed grave or common trashpit. The Roman Empire was good at law, architecture, and killing, whether wholesale (legions) or retail (occupation governments). If you wanted a successful co-optation of local leadership, you didn't slaughter wholesale (legionaires), but picked a few to kill who had stuck their necks up and out, in such a way as to make sure everyone tempted to kick against the traces would notice (Judean procurator handbook).
When things don't go the way you're used to, it seems to provoke a bit of peevishness, some contrary reactions, even when reasonably considered it's news that's good for you and for many. An expanded local grocery store, one with a commitment to cultural diversity in selection, Ohio foods where possible, and global sensitivities for all tastes, can only be a good thing, right? Yet there we frown and fret up and down the aisles as we grapple with existential angst that the rye bread is not where it once was.
And the possibility that a political prisoner, once executed, might reveal by his return something essential about the very nature of reality itself – that should be good news, but neither occupier nor occupied seemed to see it, at the time, as a blessing. Easter morning is about people not quite being where they were "supposed" to be: Jesus not buried in his tomb when it was time to apply the mortuary spices; women running into men's gatherings with incredible stories, centurions saying "Surely this man was the Son of God."
Unlikely, and inconvenient, I know. But somehow, it all works out in the end.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him something unexpected at email@example.com, or follow Knapsack @Twitter.