When Terrance and I first arrived in Michigan, it was Summer. We moved to the state from Iowa and were looking forward to watching the July 4th fireworks. At the time, we didn’t know that Detroit scheduled the annual display for late June, rather than on Independence Day. As we got to know the city, we learned about Belle Isle, Greek Town, and the Woodward Dream Cruise. About a week before our first Christmas, we jumped into the car and drove up and down Jefferson to view the mansions that were ornately decorated to commemorate the holiday.
One day as I was making the commute from work to home, I turned off on a side street and discovered Indian Village, a historic district on Detroit’s east side. I was surprised to learn that the Detroit Zoo is located in Royal Oak. But one of the most interesting items I learned about was paczkis.
I still remember the nurse on our staff who got up at 4:00 am to stand in line at the New Palace Bakery in Hamtramck. She arrived at work with two dozen of these giant jelly doughnuts. Over the next half hour, everyone visited the break room. Some dove right in to consume a paczki before seeing their next patient. Other people talked about the first time they had one. I just watched, amazed that something like this existed and people actually ate them.
Those paczkis were gone by 10:00 am. Some people took them back to their desks to work on them for the rest of the day. Others finished theirs in the break room. And each year, the same nurse would get up early on Fat Tuesday, stand in the freezing cold line to pick up her order for the office.
There were other places to purchase paczkis. Most grocery stores carried them as well, but according to those who knew, they weren’t quite the same. Still, you know Spring’s coming when the display aisle is stacked full of paczkis.
That’s what happened on my latest trip to the grocery store. I have gotten into a routine of going for the staples I purchase each week. Fruits, vegetables, tea, and of course toilet paper, are on my regular list. Last Sunday I walked into the store, headed for the stacks of fruit, and was met by a large table filled with paczkis. I stopped for a second and smiled, feeling as if some normalcy was returning.
Although it feels longer, we were not sheltering in place when paczkis made their appearance on shelves almost a year ago. As we prepare for this year’s season of Lent, we do so, knowing that vaccinations for Covid are taking place. We do so, with the awareness that we have lost family and friends to this virus, to cancer, and to other conditions. We do so, realizing that we are a nation in crisis, divided over many issues.
We do so, seeking to answer God’s call on our lives in new ways. We do so looking forward to how we can share our experience of this time apart to help build new connections and new relationships when we gather together again. We do so because our faith in the Lord endures. May God’s promises for our lives encourage us and inspire us to look toward the future with hope. A new day will soon be dawning. And Amen.