Daily Connector | Boxes bring joy | Chris McCarthy

David Emch wrote in his May 12 Connector article “Most things in life make us feel more than one emotion we’re feeling in each individual moment.” On the day I signed up for the Connector, I was feeling joy.

Most of us have seen a child open a new toy and minutes later set aside the toy to play with the empty box. Our family has a special love affair with boxes. We have in the past collected large appliance boxes and built box mazes in our barn or house for family and friends to enjoy. But an empty box in this time of Covid-19 brings a new level of joy.

A couple of months before the quarantine I started volunteering at All People’s Fresh Market food pantry on Parsons Ave. They stock fresh veggies, fruit, dairy products, and eggs. Customers could come into the store and choose what they wanted. Once quarantine started everything changed and continues to change. Customers line up in two drive-through and one walk-up line. Older volunteers stay home while many more volunteers are needed to box or bag up items. Most volunteers now are out of jobs themselves or college students. The boxes are limited to what the food came in from the food bank. The plastic grocery bags are mostly used and donated. We run out of boxes within an hour. Now to fully understand my new found joy in a box, try for yourself packing a pineapple, bag of apples, 2 mangoes, 5# of potatoes, 2 onions, collard greens, a gallon of milk, liquid hand soap and a loose bag of grapes into two used grocery sacks and tie the two sacks together.  Don’t forget speed is of the essence. You still have 300-400 more orders to pack. I find a newly emptied apple box and share it with another packer. Her face lights up with relief and a cheer goes up in the pantry.

My neighbors have been pulled into this with a text that went out 3 weeks ago. Now they sneak empty boxes onto our front porch sometimes 10-15 at a time. I open my door and experience the joy of a child with an empty box. Neighbors see my reaction and smile and wave.

My emotions run the gamut of gratefulness and sorrow when I hear other’s stories, but also impatience (give me my 6 feet!) and shame when I vocalize my impatience. The chief sense today though is joy. Not surprising I can’t recall anything about boxes or sacks in scripture. Luke 5:37-39 though offers “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins, otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.” My scriptural interpretation is loose, but I’m going to compare my new experiences to new wine, not better than old wine, but my different communities are helping me find the new wineskins.