Marking Market Day

I made my way yesterday morning to our local farmer market. The goal was to buy some tomatoes for canning. I had a bushel in my sights. Along the way I gathered some goose paté, a half-bushel of apples, Emmental cheese and a piece of Gjetøst. This latter is an especially marvellous find, being a Norwegian cheese not in our supermarkets. I bumped into some friends and we chatted for a time. They told me that they are there every week because the market is where they source their bread. I don’t have that excuse since I make our bread, using a recipe given me by my father-in-law. All the same, visiting the market could be an easily acquired habit; with violins and such humming around a variety of vendors. There is something intoxicatingly humane about a market. Things are scaled differently. Everything is weighed and priced in parcel sized pieces. There are no gross quantities of anything and if I am too slow to take it up, the last New York Times escapes my grasp. For some strange reason I find this comforting. I look people in the eye and they smile back.

I was also on the hunt for Weisswurst, a heavenly German sausage. As I walked around a corner in the indoor part of this market, I saw two young traditional Mennonite children playing at the window on my left, looking out on the world their tradition so carefully navigates. My eyes went right, where Mom and Dad were engaging customers and attending to their nicely stacked counter of organic vegetables, all the while keeping an eye on both Sohn und Tochter. I felt a smile escape me. I turned another corner and a student from school happened past me, and we shared a quick hi on the fly.

Eventually I made my way to the corner where tomatoes were on offer. I landed a bushel and felt both of my shoulders burn with happy burdens. I happened upon a young woman playing the cello with a generous smile on her face. Her cheerfulness was entirely gratuitous, since my hands that would have otherwise gladly applauded her efforts with cash were clearly and utterly occupied. It struck me that she might well be smiling because she enjoyed what she was doing. About half way to the car I passed a young man heralding the the gospel with brochures en français, a seemingly incongruous fact given that an eastern European, or perhaps a tongue from the African continent is more likely to be encountered. But then I remembered that those speaking this latter might also converse in our other official language in their native lands. I happily meandered to my chariot.

Every once in a while, for a blink of the eye or the inhalation of a breath, all seems well with the world. Yesterday morning I had one such moment. I have learned to embrace such instances even while knowing that razored security walls are being erected around the world, and people are finding the mouths of sharks preferable to places they used to call home, and immigrants are being demonized in our midst. It is good to remember that this walk in a market of plenty was what my paternal Grandparents and my maternal Opa and Oma hoped for their Kindern and our generation and so on. It is good, every once in a while, to stop and breathe in the gift, knowing that others paid hard prices for our smiles. And so we smile even while sighing a prayer for still burdened souls.

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12 thoughts on “Marking Market Day

  1. Marie Taylor says:

    yes, these little moments are blessings. We need to appreciate them as they happen for who knows how many more we will be given. There is no ‘deservedness’ about it. Rain falls on the just and unjust so our prayers must be constant for others.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Yes, our prayers must be constant, and we must be constantly vigilant about taking time to breath and love and listen, to one another and to our earth, because here we hear God’s voice.

  2. I loved St. J’s market days. There are other farmers’ markets, but nothing to quite compare with the peace I always felt there. It always brought a sense of calm joy to even the most anxious day.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks! This is actually a reflection on Kitchener’s market, which is only about 1.5 km from our house. I’ve only been to SJ’s once, and that was before the rebuild. Must soon be time for another visit!

  3. shoreacres says:

    I’ve often thought that it’s important for ordinary people (us) to live our ordinary lives — even ordinary, happy lives — so that those who are unhappy, or burdened, or bereaved, or displaced, can see that happiness is possible: not the manufactured happiness of the marketers and social engineers, but human happiness, on a human scale. That’s why the markets appeal to so many, I think. It’s commerce, yes — but on a human scale, where things other than profit can be weighed.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks for this. Yes, I recall a version of the bible some years ago in which happy replaced blessed in the beatitudes. Not a few sermons were spent railing against this, perhaps one or two of my own! But I have come to think much more about happiness, and I think it really is an under-rated emotion. Being happy is a gift, and a sign, and so I think it wise to label it ordinary since it is more often the ordinary that transforms us and is a mark of our transformation.

  4. diannegray says:

    This is beautiful, Allen. I felt like I was with you all the way here. It’s so much more refreshing going to a market than walking down the sterile aisles of a shop. Markets reflect our humanness (which is slowly being eroded away, unfortunately).

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thank you so much for these very kind words, and yes, I agree that a step or two in the market is worth thousands in the aisles of super-stores. These latter seem utterly devoid of our humanity.

  5. jannatwrites says:

    The market seems like a lovely place where people of different backgrounds can come together and exist in harmony. If only the world were like the market.

    • agjorgenson says:

      If only… yes a market is a magical place, but magical because it is so very real, and ordinary, and human. These are things we seem to be losing these days. We really need to do all we can to celebrate them!

  6. perrymj says:

    I needed to read this today. Thank you.

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