She’s a little old widow, and I used to see her every day when she came for milk and bread, walking from her house around the corner. Now she lives in town, and it’s probably been a year since I’d last seen her. She looked well, but sad, and in her own world. Was she too old and forgetful to remember me anymore? “Carol!” I said. “I haven’t seen you for ages! I have to give you a hug!”*
I rushed around the counter to her, and as I held her for a quick moment, she murmured against my shoulder, “Oh, I love a hug!”
Then we chatted quickly, because there were other customers waiting, and as she went out the door, she said, “And thanks for the cuddle!”
Oh, Carol, that was the easiest thing I’d done all day.
Later, I was watering the flowers outside and Tony, an older gentleman, a family friend, came up and chatted and told me crazy stories like he always does, and made me laugh and laugh.* Just before he left, his voice softened and he told me of his sixty-eight year old brother who’s an alcoholic and not been well for years. And now the brother met a twenty-five year old girl in the far East, and he’s dead set on going to see her, and Tony is worried for the brother and himself, because there’s substantial money and risk somewhere in there.
Tony loves to share his sail boat with his friends, and promised he’d be in touch later in the summer. “When I get the mast back on her, we’ll take her on a spin to the next harbour,” he said.
Listening to his stories, crazy and sad ones, in exchange for a ride on a sail boat? An easy trade, I’d say.
Shop keeping isn’t always that delightful, but these two people came in on the same day this week, and made me smile and made my job easier.
A line from Philip Yancey’s Disappointment with God often inspires/paralyzes/convicts me. It is when he’s talking about his friend who wants to see God, and asks for visible proof that God is there. Philip says his friend will likely never see God’s hand writing in the sky, or some other dramatic move. He will only see me, Philip says.
How can it be, that the infinite God allows fallible earthlings to tell each other that He exists, that He’s not a figment of imagination, that He is the giver of good things? I wonder if Carol and Tony know that God is real, and that I love Him. They will probably never hear His voice thunder from a cloud. They will only see me.
This is why there is dignity and purpose in being a store keeper.
*Names have been changed.