I went to Trader Joe's today. It's seriously my favorite store. I love the Orange Chicken and the Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels and... well... everything.
It was packed today--as to be expected for a Sunday afternoon... families getting the last of their shopping in before the week begins. Stocking up on lunches and dinners and lots of desserts. The difference between a packed TJ's and a packed Safeway, however, is that at TJ's, everyone's happy. I think it's because the workers are happy. Or maybe it's just copious amounts of Cookie Butter. Either way, people were kind and gracious and willing to to let others sneak by, even when the aisles were three carts full.
Once I'd picked up my goodies, I headed to the checkout line. I, of course, searched for the shortest line. I slid right in behind a mom and her daughter, who clearly had some sort of developmental disability. The daughter had made her own purchase and the cashier was helping her with each step of payment.
At first, I thought of slipping over to the line next to me. But then I started watching the exchange ahead of me. The cashier was bent over, elbows on the table, giving direction to this young lady. He glanced back at me... and winked. It was at this moment that I knew that no matter how long this line was going to take, I was staying put. I wanted to see what happened.
He helped her process everything for her payment and bagged her few items. As they finished the transaction and started ringing up the girl's mom, the young lady exclaimed, "I DID IT, MOMMY!" Then she started laughing out of the pure joy of accomplishing such a responsible task.
The conversation that ensued was about Halloween and costumes and the general happiness that comes to children at this time of year. In the time it took to ring up both mother and daughter, 4 or 5 families had gone through the line next to me. While I was ready to be on my way home, I was happy I hadn't changed lanes.
I got to see LIFE today. It's not pretty. It's messy sometimes. Sometimes we're dealt a hand that we don't know what to do with. And then... we learn. In Scripture we read stories of beggars, born blind or paralyzed or with some other difficulty, who have adapted to their circumstances.
I was reminded of the paralyzed man in Mark 2 while watching this scene unfold. This young lady was doing her best at performing a task that many of us would call routine. The paralyzed man in Mark, probably had people bring him somewhere during the day to beg for money--the closest he could participate in the "routine" of his society. But then someone, four of his friends, in this case, intervened. In this girl's life, her mom and today's cashier intervened. They made life productive, hopeful, and joyful. In Mark, the paralyzed man's friends lowered him through a roof--just so He could meet Jesus. Jesus ended up forgiving the man's sins... and healing him.
When we encounter people who need the breath of God in their life, do we just head for another, quicker line? Or are we willing to slow down, to aid those who might need a little hand up, and share the love of Jesus with them? I certainly hope I can learn to be the latter.