Welcome to my wife (and "guest blogger") Melissa!
If you want to read the "other side of the story," if you've ever wondered where beauty is in a life filled with ordinary or even ugly things, this post is for you. —Rob
Half-an-hour behind schedule on my way to a funeral, I scanned the Costco registers—measuring the length of the line against number of items and the checker’s speed. My best guess was the line punctuated at the end by a man in a flannel coat. I absently noticed he looked strangely headless, as if just a plaid coat and jeans shuffled behind his cart.
The younger steadied the frail one and handed her check toward the cashier. I closed the gap between them with my own reach, forgetting I was late. I smiled through my tears and said inadequately, “You’re doing great.”
I wish I could have told them how surprised I was to see genuine decency in our busy, indecent world. When it is my turn to offer my arm, I would like to share it with honor. It’s the way I want to be honored when I need to cling to my cart for balance—given dignity to choose what I can, to push my cart, if slowly. I hope if I cannot stand someone will help me find a box to sit on. I wanted to say to all three of them, "You are doing a rare and beautiful thing."
But the old man was carefully pushing the cart ahead aJoining his line of waiting shoppers I saw an older woman with him leaning of the arm of another who could have been her twin—if they were born twenty years apart. Same small build and sandy brown hair, though the younger had strong tanned legs and the older was very gray. The grayer leaned hard on the other’s arm as they slowly walked around the checkstands, looking.
Finding a sturdy empty box, they brought it near their cart where the younger upended it, tested it for strength, and helped her frail mother (or sister?) sit down. Then the fast dance began—the younger unloaded the cheese, lettuce, and other things and took whoever wore the flannel coat by the arm, walking away from the now empty cart. Then I saw inside the flannel coat that the man's head was nearly at a right angle to his neck. He dragged his recalcitrant feet determinedly to find a new anchor on the other side—another cart filling with his groceries.
The younger swung back to scoot the box forward in line for the frail woman and find her checkbook. Laboriously, the older filled in her check from her low seat with the younger leaning near her, unembarassed. I wasn’t embarrassed either, though I was crying. A supervisor asked if they wanted a chair. “No”, they said briefly, almost done. “The box is fine.”
And the two women walked behind, arm-in-arm, slowly catching up. My items were inexorably moving past the scanner—I had a funeral to attend.
Their drama was more real to me since saying goodbye to my own grandmother almost three years ago. She died in her sleep in the room at my parents house where my own daughter was born more than a decade before. The night before she died, great-grandchildren came by and scrambled close to give her hugs. The next morning, I had the unimaginable gift of singing around her bed with my family, three generations, as her shell lay there. Grandma Ruby had left us, though her body was so peaceful it seemed she might just be deeply asleep. We were so happy for her, but I cried for us.
Wherever we are in life, we're not that far from death.
So today I want to live beautifully—be patient when my son whines for the hundredth time or my daughter snaps, say I’m sorry when I blow it . . .
Beautiful in God's eyes because He commanded me to love my neighbor as the Good Samaritan loved his. When I do, it is lovely to my Father. (I’m a mother, I understand how beautiful it truly is when my children obey from the heart).
The care I watched in action that day at Costco reminded me how beautiful it is to love with our arms and time and life itself.
But there is another reason mundane things—like laundry or a week of stomach flu—can be beautiful to God. I don’t always remember it when I’m fighting my schedule, or explaining how to divide fractions, or standing in line at Costco:
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying,
“Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You,
or thirsty and give You drink?
And when did we see You a stranger and welcome You,
or naked and clothe You?
And when did we see You sick or in prison and visit You?”
And the King will answer them,
“Truly, I say to you, as you did it
to one of the least of these My brothers,
you did it to Me”
If I made breakfast for my Lord Jesus tomorrow, I would feel honored. Now if I can just remember He receives my gift even when the little boy next to me complains he doesn’t like hot cereal. . . .
© 2011 by Melissa J. Robbins