I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m convinced Jesus lives in the grocery store. SuperSaver on 56th Street in Lincoln, Nebraska, to be exact. I know, technically he lives everywhere and is in all places and in all people. But he really lives in the grocery store. SuperSaver is Jesus’s tabernacle, his temple. He lives right there amid the StarKist tuna and the Hamburger Helper.
Last week a woman stopped me in the pasta aisle. “This may sound like a strange question,” she said, her parka still buttoned up to her chin, “but do you write for the newspaper?” I was surprised. In the three years I’ve been writing for the Journal Star, no stranger has ever recognized me or stopped me in public.
“I do!” I said, pleased with my teeny-tiny moment of fame. She graciously mentioned how much she appreciated the column, and we talked for a few seconds about how rare it is these days for a city newspaper to feature a weekly religion section. Then we went our separate ways – she toward the canned vegetable aisle, me toward the frozen foods.
Two aisles later I passed her again, and it struck me: the lady in the buttoned-up parka must have read December’s column, the one in which I wrote about doing small things with great love for each of the 24 days of Advent.
I stopped my cart next to hers. “I’m onto to you,” I said, smiling. “This is your small thing done in great love for the day, isn’t it?” She didn’t outright agree, but I could tell the way she laughed that it was. Stopping to tell me she enjoyed the column was indeed her good deed for the day.
This is all so very ironic, of course, because while I’d been pushing my cart up and down SuperSaver’s aisles, I’d been thinking about how I might accomplish my small thing. Turns out, this Small Things Great Love initiative is trickier than I’d envisioned. I work from home; some days I only leave the house to drop off and pick up my kids from school. I don’t have a lot of interaction with the public. I don’t have a lot of opportunity to love my neighbor – at least the “neighbors” who live outside my own home – but I figured the grocery store was a good place to start.
I love that the lady in the parka stopped to offer me a kind word. I love that the column inspired her to participate in the Small Things in Great Love Advent initiative. And I especially love that while I schemed how to accomplish my good deed for the day, God took me by surprise, showering me with great love on a Tuesday afternoon in the grocery store, just when I least expected it.