Grocery Store Grace



I start my days to the sounds of NPR; it’s my morning alarm. Some mornings as I listen to the latest turmoil, I wonder for the umpteenth time why I keep an unrelenting 24-hour news cycle as my opening into a new day. It can feel like waking into the dark. But then, there are those days this station wakes me into light, highlighting an uplifting story, rich with compassion. For me, catching the light is always worth the wait.


A few days ago I woke to a story of light, of everyday grace, and unexpectedly was surprised into connecting my long-buried past story to a stranger’s present one. My morning went like this:


A woman was sharing with her interviewer how an honest answer to a grocery check-out clerk, inquiring about her day, changed not only that day, but very likely her life going forward. Instead of a forced smile and the usual knee-jerk response of “Fine; how’s yours?”, she faced a total stranger and blurted out her truth. Her mother had died within the last week and days were very painful. The young man who was bagging her groceries saw the exchange, and took to heart her grief. With little hesitation, he simply asked if he could give her a hug. She was taken aback, surprised at such an intimate offer from another stranger. But something compelled her to agree, and the two hugged. Her tears flowed, and so did her gratitude.


Light into darkness . . .


Listening that morning unburied a long-ago grocery-store memory of my own. It was a bitterly cold, dark afternoon when this bitterly disheartened woman chose to stock her near-empty frig. I can clearly visualize the scene all these years later: I walked through the front door of a local store, and just stood quietly, wondering if I really had the energy to walk the aisles. But I was there, now, and I was convinced tomorrow would be just as cold and dark, so I picked up a basket and moved into the store. Just ahead of me was a woman, a perfect stranger, pushing her cart. She stopped abruptly, then turned to face me and said, “God wanted me to tell you He loves you.” And with that, she continued down the aisle. I stopped, speechless, and stared after her. What?!


Light into my darkness . . .


Two grocery store tales told by two women . . . both true, both unexpected, both laced with grace—the courage and spirit of human compassion—in everyday places. Both reminiscent of the truth that the benevolence and generosity of grace moments exist just around the most mundane of life’s corners.


Believe in it. Watch for it. Live gratefully within it. Be it for another.


And, if you’d like, tell me about it.


Wishing you light for the journey,

Jane


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