Loving Strokes of Kindness
I was in a hurry, and so was she. We stood in line, waiting at the grocery store check-out. I was just ahead of this harried lady and watched as she rooted through a sizable purse for her cell phone. While I waited for my turn to unload food staples onto the conveyor belt, she engaged a call and I was drawn in by snippets of a conversation that stopped me short.
“I’m on my way in just a minute. He’s at Providence Hospital. He was taken there by ambulance…I’m getting out of here as fast as I can. I was in the middle of picking up groceries…yeah…I couldn’t just dump the cart and leave. I’m almost through the line.”By now, I noticed the way tears filled her eyes and overflowed, spiking her lashes and tracking down her cheeks. As soon as she ended the conversation, I spoke up. “Let me get out of the way so you can move ahead.” She stared at me, not really comprehending, seeming shell-shocked. I began to move my cart backward, and move hers into place.
She gathered a breath, and I noticed the way her lips trembled. “Thank you.”
I wasn’t going to press for details, but before I knew it, she was unpacking her cart as fast as she could, and she began to unburden. “My husband was working on the gutters at home. He fell off the ladder and our neighbor found him unconscious, and it seems he has a broken leg. It just happened. I need to get to the hospital.”
I helped unload her items as well, anything to help speed her to her loved one. But then, her purse spilled as she slid it off her shoulder, presumably to pay the tab. A clerk at the next station seemed to have heard our exchange. She paused from her duties long enough to kneel and help us gather items. As a threesome we double-checked the countless crevices where smaller belongings might have tumbled and hid.
She became frantic all over again, but we did our best to help her regroup. By the time she dashed off, she was still worried, but she expressed gratitude many times over, ready now to escape the store and conduct a vigil at the ER.
I watched her cut through the parking lot, considering the truth that revealing the face of Christ comes not in enormous miracles or mystical flashing lights, but in strokes of thoughtfulness and caring that light the way for others through acts of love and kindness.