envelope looked official, but it could’ve just as easily been junk mail. The
orange words across the top, authoritative in their capitalization, intrigued
me enough to read further. “JURY SUMMONS,” it said.
Holy smokes, this is real, I
I was called for Federal Jury Duty
the other week. It’s a three-days-or-one-trial gig, paying $40 per day. Well,
at least it’s something, but seriously, only $5 an hour to be a good citizen? It
was my obligation to serve, though.
I checked the family wall calendar
hanging on the inside of my pantry closet. First, I rescheduled my dentist
appointment, which of course I didn’t mind. But the next day I was scheduled to
meet a friend I hadn’t seen in a while—changing those plans hurt a little bit.
To top it off, I’d have to mentally prepare for rush hour driving to
Philadelphia, a task I managed to avoid for more than a decade. Sure, I love
going to the city, but I’d lose another couple hours a day in the commute. Not
fun. Maybe I can get an audiobook from the library. My mind continued to spin
like the teacup ride at the summer carnivals.
The summons paperwork included detailed
instructions; first, I was to look for an email the day before jury service to
get an update on my status. If I didn’t receive an email, I was to call the 800
number after 5 p.m. the night before to get my final instructions for
It was 4:20 on Tuesday afternoon
when my email inbox pinged.
do not have to report for jury service tomorrow, Wednesday, February 15,
it read, “but you are required to call
the 800 number on Wednesday evening after 5 p.m. to receive your instructions
for reporting on Thursday, February 16.”
Wow, they’re serious about this
Which made me wonder about placing
three days of my life on hold, like an unbalanced warrior pose. In hindsight,
three days doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough, as with the Easter story.
Day one. Jesus hung on the cross,
said “It is finished” and then died. Jury service had only begun for the disciples,
their grief overshadowing any perspectives beyond the first day, the first
moment. I imagine they were buried under the depths of their emotions, afraid
for their own lives, with no real assignments except to wait. And pray. And
wait some more. In this type of waiting, coated with the pain of the unknown,
time slows. The disciples must have felt unsure and unstable, a table with one
of its legs needing a few napkins shoved underneath to keep it steady. They must
have questioned everything: their faith, their futures, their hopes.
On Wednesday, I received another
email just after 4 p.m. No service required for Thursday but I was again
required to call on Thursday night for Friday’s instructions. I was finally
reaching the summit of my duty to serve, the top of the mountain with the
descent in sight.
But I’ve always wondered about the
disciples during that day in between, what I call Day Two, the day after Jesus
died and before the Easter resurrection. For me, this in-between season of
waiting includes a multitude of questions. I’m wondering about health issues
for my family and friends; the future for my college-age children and my own
purpose in life. My soul cries out “Are you there, God?” I ask, “What about all
this suffering? What’s my purpose?”
It’s as if nothing but fog appears, and
I drive more slowly. I read the bible, listen to sermons, sit quietly to pray.
Many days it feels as if my fog lights aren’t working. Sometimes I try using
high beams instead, but they only make the fog appear whiter.
In the waiting, however, the
molasses movement of time is starting to reveal a gift. These seemingly
extended moments give me bonus time to connect with God more deeply in my soul.
Finally, on the third day, I
received the email: “Your jury service
has ended.” I breathed a sigh of relief. Fog or not, God’s presence becomes
clearer in the waiting.