• Things are still going well for my family, friends, and congregation.  There are some friends who have friends who have contracted COVID 19, and even some who have died, but so far none of my acquaintances.
  • The work schedule is still very heavy at the church with the extra connections we are putting in place and maintaining to get us through this time of not being together socially. 
  • I am now only a little more than a month away from completing my work at Mattoon First and retiring from the active ministry...becoming increasingly aware of all the things I want to complete...and the preparations I need to be making for moving to a new house.
  • One of my highlights each day is a 20 minute conversation with my four-year old grandson Sean, working with him on his English by sharing stories and songs.  

May 3, 2020
Getting Ready for World Donkey Day
I know that some of my dear readers are getting a little cranky out there...and jittery...and dull... So, here is a little guidance on how you might rework your routines this coming week to make yourself a bit more interesting...and tolerable.  Cranky and grouchy are only interesting for short periods of time.  If you're one of those who need to get over it...here's my giving you a push:
Let's start with foods.  Monday is "Candied Orange Peel Day," Tuesday is "Hoagie Day," Wednesday is "No Diet Day," Thursday is "Roast Leg of Lamb Day," Friday is "World Donkey Day," (oops, mistakenly put that one in the wrong paragraph), and Saturday is "Moscato Day."  There!  I've just made up your grocery shopping list for you.  
Since candied orange peels are harder to find than toilet paper, you'll have to make your own.  I've never done it, but that's why we have the internet...to teach us how to do stuff we've never done.  Cook your orange peels in a brew consisting of ½ water and ½ sugar.  Then roll them in sugar.  In case you decide to share, I like mine dipped in dark chocolate.  
Hoagies, it turns out, were conjured by Italian immigrants working in Philadelphia shipyards.  The sandwiches were first called "hog islands."  Jie likes mutton and will be happy on Thursday when she gets to roast a leg of lamb.  I'm not so big on sheep meat, so I may just eat another Hoagie that day, which Jie will probably let me do as long as I don't tell her it is a "hog island." My friends who like wine will be happy for Saturday when they can pop open a bottle of Moscato, from a special grape grown around the Black Sea.  
Now, on to people we want to honor this week:  Monday is "Firefighters Day," Tuesday is "Teacher Appreciation Day," "Cartoonist Day," and "International Midwives Day."  Wednesday is "School Nurse Day," Friday is "Military Spouse Appreciation Day," and Saturday is "Belly-dancers Day."  
Firefighters certainly are worth honoring.  Last year, 55 firefighters lost their lives on the job.  Ten times that number had heart attacks while on a call.  Others have suffered from work-related illnesses and injuries.  Find a way to learn something new about firefighters...and send one you know a note tomorrow.
On Tuesday, I think I'll sit down with a pencil and paper and see how many of my teachers I can remember.  I may also browse the internet for some cartoons...to celebrate Cartoonist Day.  And while my daughter Alison is not a midwife, she is a doula...so maybe I'll give her a call on Tuesday and get caught up on things.    
Wednesday will be a little more challenging for me, since I never visited a school nurse. Most schools back then didn't have a school nurse.  I do remember the time I threw up at school and had to go home early and miss out on the governor visiting our school that day.  And if my school would have had a nurse, I'm sure I would have been comforted.  But I'll probably just have to wait for "school custodian appreciation day" to complete my memories of that occasion.  
I have decided that I am not going to tell anyone what I am doing on Saturday for Belly-dancer appreciation day...unless I can find a euphemism (like substituting hoagie for hog island) to throw you all off.
On to the next category:  bits of rebellion beckon us in the week ahead.  Wednesday is "No Diet Day" and "No Homework Day," and Friday is "No Socks Day."  

"No Diet Day," has been cancelled this year due to spousal omnipresence during this time of sheltering in place.  "No Homework Day," which includes any work that needs done around the house, has also been cancelled this year, also due to unremitting spousal supervision.  It looks like the loosest we're going to get this year might be a day of no socks.
Finally, our 'odds and ends' category.  Monday is Star Wars Day.  It has its origin in the phrase "May the force be with you," which was perverted by the English in 1979 to celebrate Margaret Thatcher's anticipated election as prime minister on May 4 of that year, when her supporters kept saying, "May the fourth be with you."  Anyway...watch a Star Wars movie tomorrow.
Tuesday is "Nail Day."  I wasn't sure if this was being promoted by a carpenter's union or a cosmetic company.  It turns out to be a day to give attention to your toes and fingers.  Some of you may want to paint your nails, others will observe the day by trimming them, others by biting them.  Anyway, Tuesday is the day to give some attention to those horny sheaths growing on the ends of our digits.
Finally, we cannot leave the week without mentioning that Friday is the third annual "World Donkey Day."  There is actually a Facebook page for this occasion (click here), but so far only 14 people are interested...and no one is "going" to whatever event may be held.

 In any case, while we are all itching to get out and return to life as normal, remember to keep your "donkey" at home and stay safe and healthy.  
p.s.  The calendar I use for all this information is found at https://www.daysoftheyear.com

 The Sunday letter is something I have done now for over 20 years.  It is a disciplined musing:  mindfulness, memory, and imagination.  I used to write it when I first woke up on a Sunday morning and then share it with the congregation. Now I write it on a Saturday, revise it, and send all of them out by email.This discipline of thinking and writing puts me in the place of describing rather than pontificating.  It prepares me to proclaim the gospel rather than get preachy with the souls who will sit before me.  --JMS


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