Compassion in Aisle 7

Matt Life CerealLast night in LB2’s message he said “Compassion = Come past your house” If it’s come past your house, you’ll have compassion.

A little secret?  Five years as an empty nester and single, one of the saddest moments for me is still the grocery store.  For 25 years I shopped for a family, always surprising them with their favorite food, or the ingredients for a special dessert.  Kids hanging on the cart or running to the toy section and then having to hunt them down.  Playing “Price is Right” with my step son Tyler as we checked out to see who could guess the closest without going over.  It may have just been “getting groceries” but we made it an adventure.  Even when alone, I was shopping with a purpose, to show my family I loved them by buying the stuff to prepare for their favorite meal.

Tonight I was in a hurry.  I drove from work to the town my tax accountant lives in and had 45 minutes between my arrival in Milford and my tax appointment.  I could do this!  I could run into Meijer and get all the stuff I needed for the women’s event at my home tomorrow.  That way?  I didn’t have to stop after.  I could go straight home after my tax appointment and start the flight of the bumble bee, cleaning and preparing for tomorrow’s expected guests.  I didn’t feel sad shopping tonight.  I was once again, shopping with a purpose.

In a mad dash to try and remember everything I needed that was non-perishable I was running the aisles like a mad woman on a mission.  I got to the water aisle and it was in that aisle I paused.  Which bottled water to get?  It’s usually never a second thought, always Dasani, but for some reason today I decided to ponder price, quality, etc.  And I felt someone behind me, turned around and saw (but didn’t really “see”) an older man behind me, waiting.  To be totally transparent?  My first thought?  “Great! Are you serious?! no one else in sight and the 2 foot x 2 foot area I want to stand in and someone is going to stand behind me and wait…” Then a quick check in spirit – OK a spiritual spanking if you will – “Kris!  Seriously?!?”  Ugh.  Sorry God for thinking that.  Immediate repentance for being such a brat.  So I pushed the cart back to the Dasani, allowing the older gentleman to evaluate the water in the section I was previously standing.  This time?  I saw him. He was frail, likely in his late 70’s, and had stuff for one in his cart.  I remembered how lost my dad was for a bit when my mom died.  I recall how lonely shopping for one still is for me.  And in that moment?  I had compassion.  Why?  Because it has came past my house.

I wondered if he had once had a family?  Had his wife maybe even been the one to do the shopping or did they make it an adventure like I used to?  I placed the two 24 packs of Dasani in my cart and wheeled up next to him looking to the adjacent aisle at the juices.  Contemplating which cranberry juice to purchase I heard a heavy sigh and a 24 pack of water hit the bottom of the cart beside me.  I turned around and saw him lowering the 2nd 24 pack into his cart and as I said “Man, those things are heavy aren’t they??”  He smiled the sweetest smile and said “Yes they are.”  I then replied, as it was hitting me, “I’m sorry. I just failed.  If I had been paying attention I would have offered to put them in the cart for you.  I try to do a good deed every day and my opportunity was right in front of me.”  He smiled and said “Well I could offer to put that jug of juice in your cart I haven’t done a good deed today either.  I mean it does look pretty heavy.”  We both laughed.  He then smiled with eyes shining and said “Miss, you didn’t fail. You spoke to  me.  Do you know how long it’s been since someone has done that?  Even acknowledged me in the store?”  Wow.  Just wow.  What a reminder.  One word, one human interaction can be a bright spot in someone else’s life.  I know for me?  Even when I have human interaction all day long at work, with my kids, my friends – kindness from a stranger, people pulling their heads outta their phones and their “to do” lists to participate in real human kindness and interaction?  Always leaves my  heart so very full!

Yes, I’m that person who’s going to talk to strangers on a plane, in a restaurant, in a store because those moments can be just as special and good for your soul as a cup of coffee with a life long friend.  I encourage you, next time you are in the store?  Don’t just notice the people around you, but really see them.  And then smile.

Be blessed my friends –

Kris

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