The Spider Project (aka Arachnid Agape—thanks to our friend and colleague Della Wells, Episcopal Volunteer in Mission serving in Jerusalem) continues thanks to a skilled chaplain, a wise and compassionate friend and colleague.
When people talk about what good pastoral care looks like they mention things like spiritual support through listening and prayer, compassion shown through practical assistance, helping someone identify their legitimate needs, and accompanying them as they, when possible, develop their own skills and tools to get those needs met.
This Arachnid Agape installment has all of those—through the ministry (and light-hearted love) of Chaplain to the Clergy of the Diocese of Maryland, the Rev. Joanna White.
And, like many of the best treats in life, I didn’t see this one coming. Here’s how it happened:
First, the notice arrives in my mailbox at school—the slip from the South Africa Postal Service informing me that mail is awaiting me in the Post Office. The form says, “Registered Letter” and to bring official I.D.
Second, find the Post Office, which has moved since I was there a couple of months ago. A web search identifies two possible locations. Hooray! This is turning out to be a treasure hunt! Turns out not to be difficult to find it, despite the lack of a sign out front. And, it has air conditioning!
Third, I slide my the slip and my passport to the person working at the desk on the other side of the glass partition. She examines my passport and the slip and enters something into a computer. She stamps the slip multiple times, and with great gusto, using rubber stamps, an ink pad and muscle: thwack, thwack, thwack. I feel very official.
She leaves the desk, goes out through a door, and comes back after some minutes with a long rectangular package. Doesn’t look like a registered letter. What can it be?
Fourth Step: The slip is given back to me and I sign, date, and write all my passport info in (I think the same info that is now in the computer, but this makes me feel very official too). I peer through the glass partition and try to read what’s on the box’s label. No luck, the print is too small.
Suddenly the person helping me collects everything—slip, passport, package—and her money drawer and moves to a new desk. I doubt this is an official part of the process, but it adds to the intrigue.
Final Step: The box is put into a compartment via a door on the person’s side that can be opened on my side after she closes it on her side.
I open the door and slide the package out and see on the label: Sender—Joanna White and Contents: Spider Catcher! Hooray! and much laughter!
I look at the date Joanna mailed the package: August 29, 2018.
On the walk home, we stop along the way for something we need at the grocery store and I feel like a celebrity with my big package with its bright yellow South African postal system tape and fun butterfly mailing tape and my name written so beautifully.
At home, I open the box and pull out this marvelous gift.
One of my favorite things is the name of this device. Not just Critter Catcher, but My Critter Catcher.
The plastic spider was included for practice.
I also appreciate the empowering message that came along with it.
Thanks to the Rev. Joanna White, Chaplain to the Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, for the creative ways she lives out her vocation, offering comfort, equipping us for appropriate self-care, and reminding us that we are not alone. And for the fun of a treasure hunt begun 7 months ago when she followed up on an idea a friend posted on Facebook.
By the way, check out the Rev. Della Wells’s beautiful and informative blog here.
You’ll get a glimpse into the ministry of another wonderful chaplain and learn great things from her about her time in the Holy Land.