It started with a text from my sister a few weeks ago. Something along of the lines of, “[friend x] had a bad reaction to her second shot and is still feeling under the weather. Can you please drop off dinner for her and her family?”
What I thought and felt was, “uhhhhhhhhhhh, gahhhhhhhh.”
What I text was, “Yes!”
I love cooking. I love cooking for other people. But, well, it’s been a while since I’ve cooked for anyone outside of my immediate family. At least a year. I knew it was an easy audience, but the line between “excited to do something I enjoy and haven’t done for a while” and “nerves” felt pretty slim for a few days as I tried to figure out what and when to cook. Underlying it was low key dread. What if I messed it all up? Would I have enough time?
In the meantime, somehow my morning scripture reading was from the Acts of the Apostles. It began, “As Peter was passing through every region, he went down to the holy ones living in Lydda, There he found a man named Aeneas, who been confined to his bed for eight years, for he was paralyzed.”
I do not want to compare being in a pandemic to Aeneas, who was paralyzed, but I was feeling and had been feeling a little “confined”. And truth be told, I think I had started to become a little (maybe a lot) attached to the idea of being confined. Absent the pre-pandemic routines, the pandemic routines had become, well, comfortable. We had managed to make them work. And, well, honestly, the routines and comforts of home had kept us safe and healthy. Now I was being asked to take a step outside of that routine.
Over a few days, I decided which foods to prepare and settled on a spread of roasted chicken thighs in an herby marinade to be served with fresh hummus and homemade pita with tomatoes and cucumbers on the side. (Piling them all into pockety sandwiches optional.) My husband and Ms8yo would make brownies. It was a kid friendly meal that wasn’t too hard to double, pack up and drop off.
In Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 9, “Peter said to Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your bed.” In previous readings, this moment has often struck me. This man has been paralyzed for eight years, and Peter tells him he is healed and to make his bed? And I heard echos of my own voice as parent telling my kids to make their beds, which has always felt a bit nagging to me and tiresome all around. Now this man is healed and the first thing he’s supposed to do is make his bed?
In the meantime, I managed to pull off the “double” dinner with nary a hitch, sending an actual basket of food (I’d had the sense to pick up a few disposable food containers when I’d been grocery shopping earlier in the day) over to our friends. I’d even managed a trip (my first in well over a year) to the farmer’s market to find some seasonal items including some ramps which I was able to sneak into the yogurt sauce. It was the first sit down homemade meal our friends had had in a while and they sent lovely pictures and texts of gratitude. I felt warm and fuzzy all over seeing their smiling faces and clean plates.
And what happened to Aeneas? “He got up at once and all the inhabitants of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.” It would be nice to think that in this story, I was Peter, sending healing foods over to our friends to help them out of their difficult health situation.
But, of course, you know by now, dear reader, that I was Aeneas and my sister was Peter, telling me to “make my bed.” Peter didn’t heal Aeneas, Jesus already did that. What Peter was doing was telling Aeneas that he was healed and giving him a task to do to show him he was healed. “Make your bed.” Imagine how absurdly impossibly that must have sounded to Aeneas when Peter said it to him. But he got up. Scripture doesn’t tell us whether or not he actually made it bed. But we know that he got up, which was far and away a bigger task than making his bed.
Sometimes we are already healed. We already have all of these things we can do and are capable of. And what we need is someone coming along and saying, “here: do this thing.” And that thing might sound absurdly impossible to us, but before we know it, we are at the farmer’s market in front of piles of ramps, devising ways to incorporate them into a meal that is already turning into something more than you could have imagined a few short days ago.
Dear reader, “Get up. And make your bed.”