Sunday, November 18, 2018
Years ago when I shopped at a Giant Eagle store near my hometown, there was a wonderful African American man who used to bag groceries. He was a retired pastor, and it was a delight to be in his line. His careworn face filled with a roadmap of wrinkles held the clearest, soulful brown eyes I'd ever seen. A baseball cap was perched on his head with silver hair peeking underneath. He always had a big bright smile for the customers and would have something special to share.
"God's a blesser," he would tell me as I reached for my bags. "I praise Him every day." Or, "God bless you, daughter. Have a peace-filled day."
I miss seeing him when I return to my old stomping grounds, but I will never forget this man.
Today I was feeling a little melancholy. Thanksgiving is approaching, and it will be the second one without my parents. My husband has been working so much overtime it is affecting his personality and his negativity is overwhelming. Work has been stressful, television news has been awful. I began to let the blues overtake me.
Wow, it seems nobody cares anymore. People are so indifferent. There's never a good or kind word from anyone. I haven't met a person lately who isn't filled with anger. Everyone is at odds about something.
I wrote a few words this morning on Facebook:
What if? What if today we step out of our comfort zone for another person? What if we don't judge someone who is different? What if we give ourselves and others permission to make a mistake and forgive immediately? What if we treat others with respect and kindness? What if it lasts more than just for today?
After church I stopped in a dollar store. My stomach was rumbling with hunger, so I wanted the trip to be a quick one. I was looking at a few small teddy bears when I heard a voice behind me. "Aw, you like the furry little bears, do ya?"
I turned and looked into the face of someone so similar to the man I'd known all those years ago at Giant Eagle. His smile was radiant, a baseball cap perched on his head over silver hair peeking from underneath. I couldn't see his eyes, as he wore light brown sunglasses. We began a conversation.
It seems this man was a pastor. He, too, is retired and works on cars part-time. The kindness he showed, and the way he spoke, gave me fresh hope. He talked as if we were old friends. He gave me ideas of places to go and the beauty in nature waiting to be seen. He said that if we look, God is in the splendor all around us. I felt drawn to him, and asked his name. He told me it was Richard. And that in itself was special. It's my father's name. He handed me a little purple pin, an Alzheimer's remembrance pin. And I found that odd as well since Mom passed away from Alzheimer's complications only last year.
We chatted at least a half hour, and I didn't regret one moment. Everything I had felt earlier vanished in the presence of this good old soul. Even my hunger. For I now hungered for his words; words that gave me a fresh outlook and something to believe.
His parting words to me were, "God sets up appointments, doesn't He? We just have to look for them."
I'm glad this appointment was right on time.