Two back story items:
I belong to a liberal, progressive church ~ but we are diverse and not all identical in our theology or politics by any means. (I personally am pretty far over on the liberal and progressive end of the spectrum.) In fact, one of the cool things about our church is that we are not all on the same page and yet we worship together and talk together and confront issues together without rancor, something the PC(USA) as a whole sometimes struggles with.
I grew up in a farming community and my family was in the grain business for most of the last century, which means that corn and soybeans were staples (again (sigh) no pun intended) of dinnertime conversation in my childhood.
I went to church today so that I could be present, insofar as I was able, to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of our senior pastor's ordination (15 of those years with us). It was a little TOO celebratory for my present frame of mind, but I was glad that I went. Lots of energy, humor, appreciation, and genuine joy.
Then I went to the grocery. The first person I ran into was a woman whom I see maybe once or twice a year, and have not seen since Chicago Son died. She was at the store with her younger daughter, who attended the same high school as my own Lovely Daughter and sang in the music program as well.
As I've said, I sometimes avoid people in public places if I haven't yet talked with them about Chicago Son. But I wasn't in an avoidance mood today, which was a good thing, because this woman and I practically ran into one another.
I have never seen someone move so fast to get out of my way. Our grocery is a very sociable place and it often takes a long time to get out of there, because of the many conversations among friends who haven't seen one another in awhile. But wow ~ this woman said "hello," moved on, and visibly looked into the space beyond me as we encountered one another a few times over in our travels down the aisles. No expression of condolences, no conversations about our daughters' college adventures, no mention of it finally being warm enough for the local pool (where at one time in our lives we whiled away many an afternoon).
I understand -- sort of -- the awkwardness, but this friend is a SOCIAL WORKER.
OK, enough said. My next encounter was with an older lady from church, who has, to my recollection (which we all know is not the best) said nothing to me about Chicago Son. We had exchanged pleasantries about the celebration this morning and started to look over the produce when she stopped and said, "You know."
OK, I thought, I'm OK; I'll be fine with whatever she says.
"You know, I get a lot of medical newsletters," she continued. "And I get one from a Dr. So-and-So. And he says that our increased use of soy in so many products is contributing to the increased prevalence of homosexuality among young people today."
I must have looked just a little astonished, because she went on to elaborate for a minute or two. I decided to try some humor, which I doubted that she would understand, but ~
"Well, um, you know, soybeans paid for my education!" I said brightly.
"But ~ " she tried to continue.
I decided that I needed something from another aisle.
There are encounters in which I would give anything at all, even more than usual, for the company of Chicago Son and his wit.