Today was a very hectic day at work. Two days before Thanksgiving, everybody was out getting their festive preparations. There was pretty much always a long line at my cash register. It was go-go-go. Mostly I enjoyed it – it felt very festive and mostly people were in a good mood. Mostly. It had been that way all day.
Halfway through the afternoon, a slender girl presented herself in front of me with about $16 worth of groceries. Her credit card was declined. She somewhat sheepishly had me put back a couple of items and run her card again – still no luck. She really quick called somebody to consult. “I put back the cheese and the milk”, she said. “What should go next?” You could almost see sweat break out on her brow. There was a long line behind her.
To my chagrin, I observed myself being irritated with her. Some wiser part of me knew that this reaction was out of whack. This was a poignant situation – this girl was in pain. She was about to go home without her bread and I’m irritated with her. As she put back more items, little by little my heart started to melt. By the time she finally punted on the whole transaction, a sweetness had taken over and I genuinely cared for her and her situation. She had to go home with no groceries.
I think it was because of this little lesson that when, fifteen minutes later, two very old women came through my line – who were very slow about everything, again with a long line behind them – I felt no irritation. I felt very sweet towards them, very compassionate. Helping them had some challenges, but everything was hard for them.
As I move into this Thanksgiving, I can be grateful that – even though I don’t have a lot of money – so far at least I always have a little bit of money left at the end of the month. I can be grateful that it has been a long time since my credit card was declined. I can be grateful that I never have to go home with no bread. I can be grateful that – unlike many of my co-workers – I never have to wait until payday to buy my groceries.
I don’t like it that sometimes my heart turns cold. But I can be grateful that – in this one instance at least – when my heart was cold, some angel whispered in my ear “Let go. Care. Trust. Feel. Love.” Nothing is more painful than to have a cold heart. And nothing feels better than to have your heart open up.