“Are these good for baking?” asked the man sharing space in front of the bin of potatoes. I had navigated around the maze of vegetable stands in the produce department of the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon, and arrived here at this moment. As I looked up, he continued, “I’m new to this.”
As I answered his question, my mind reeled with the scenarios playing out in his life right now. He appeared in his 60’s. Did his spouse recently die? Divorce? “Sure. These are what I use. There is another bin over with more,” I replied as I pointed away from where we stood. My answer felt inadequate to what was conveyed seconds before. But it is what he needed. Humanity. A recognition that we see and hear each others as companions in this place wrought with both beauty and pain.
As he parted, he thanked me and I remembered: I have encountered this situation before. Another time in a different store, an elderly man asked me where to find an item and commented that he had never done the grocery shopping before. I walked away wishing I could do more than identify an aisle.
These encounters remind me that “we are all walking each other home.” At anytime, any one of us is harboring invisible struggles. None of us is immune to the realities that we live in a place this side of Heaven. But we have the opportunity to offer grace and love in the most ordinary of moments. We share out of what has been given to us. It’s not ours to hoard.
I confess, it isn’t always easy. When I am on an errand, my desire is to grab what I need and move on. Waiting patiently while someone stands in front of a shelf making a decision can frustrate me. Especially in this season of attempting social distancing. Why is it taking so long?
Maybe… she has been up all night with a fussy baby or sick child and is trying to make a decision in the few minutes of reprieve from home.
His spouse fell very ill or died. His world as he knew seems to be imploding. Simple decisions feel daunting when you can barely walk forward.
She is trying to figure out a quick, nutritious meal for her kids based on a bare bones budget and running errands between two jobs.
Trying to adjust to a months long marathon of making and re-evaluating decisions leaves the mind tired. Even a simple decision feels overwhelming.
It becomes tempting to navigate our days checking items off my list. But people can’t be checked off. So I pray that I see my interactions in my ordinary moments not as mindless interactions but opportunities to leave imprints on each other, if even for a moment. Always anticipate that any place can become Holy ground.