In a recent UCC Daily Devotional Talitha Arnold reflects on the longings of the Israelites during their post Exodus wilderness wanderings. ‘Stirred up by the “rabble among them,” they cried out for cucumbers.’
“We remember the fish we had in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, and onions, and the garlic” (Numbers 11:5). You can imagine the many ways they were longing for home. They remembered the foods that bound them together, connected them in community, united them in a common thread with their ancestors – even while living in slavery. Now two years into their wanderings what would last another thirty-eight, reality was settling in. (It was probably good the exact duration ahead of them was not known!!)
As the writer pointed out, it didn’t matter that God’s manna was sweet and abundant or that cucumbers were also a sign of slavery. That which had anchored them was gone. A feeling of being rudderless and adrift in a sea of uncertainty was overwhelming. Ah…how I long for a cucumber sandwich!
Perhaps you can identify. Back in March we thought we’d be displaced for two weeks, then it was two months, then more time was tacked on. Then we stopped putting a time limit on how long it would be until indoor public gatherings could safely occur. CDC guidelines open up possibilities, though with strict limits that bring their own uncertainties and risks. And so, we continue honoring physical distancing.
We like the Israelites cry out in our own despair and with our own longings. It may not be cucumbers (I’m rather sick of them at this point) but our longing to be together, to sit in “our” pew, hear live music, to share the joy of coffee hour. Such emotions and needs are normal and understandable.
Yet, our global healthy crisis persists, and so we like the Israelites commit to creating a facsimile of home that is creative and safe. We’ll continue focusing on how to discover new ways of connecting with each other that are both safe for all and life-giving, even if that means the ways we formerly defined ‘home’ remain for now absent.
We will continue to bless Zoom, enjoy seeing each other’s faces as possible, catching up on each other’s lives, diving into a new book perhaps, sharing lunch at the labyrinth as weather allows, and giving thanks for what we do have, and all the blessings that surround us day after day.
Perhaps, even enjoy a cucumber sandwich. One day at a time.