This post is an introspective one. It has nothing to do with cooking or organizing or cleaning…just life. I hope you enjoy it!
Another day filled with time frames, to-do lists and appointments. I wondered how I suddenly had so much to do? Funny how one day you just wake up and realize, oh my gosh, I’m an adult. Adult responsibilities, adult expectations, adult everything…I always thought it was so far away, so out of reach. Yet, there I was. There were things to be accomplished, and most importantly, on that day, errands to run.
As I maneuvered smoothly into the parking spot closest to the door, I checked the clock and smiled in utter satisfaction. Seven a.m. sharp. Perfect. I would be one of the first customers in the store. I assumed the product I was after would be to the far left and almost on the back wall. No problem. I would breeze in and out in absolutely no more than five minutes.
These thoughts marched orderly through my mind as I placed the vehicle in park, grabbed my keys and purse and exited the car. Closing the door behind me with appropriate force, I trotted (which, to my embarrassment, I’ve come to realize I do when my brain gets ahead of my short legs) towards the store entrance, raising my arm up and behind me as I pressed the key to activate the locks. A small beep followed me as I neared the door. As I glanced up at the sky, my plans began to shift in my mind. It will be raining any minute now, and I have no umbrella. Was it at all possible to be in and out in two minutes flat? My pace quickened.
The automatic doors slid open and I slid through, re-adjusting my purse on my shoulder with a firm grip and looking warily around for anyone with the intention to slow my progress. “Hi, welcome!” an elderly gentleman smiled and nodded at me. “Anything I can help you find?” “No, thanks, I know exactly what I need!” I called over my shoulder with a smile. Straight down the center aisle I moved, then side-stepped left before merging with the sales staff at the back counter; that in itself would be a definite guarantee for a time delay. “Ma’am, do you need help with anything?” a young girl who looked as if she should be in school at this time of the morning called. “No, thanks!” I responded, giving her a smile, still moving down the aisle at a pace level slightly higher than brisk.
My prize in view, I procured two cans from the shelf, turning a full ninety degrees and heading back towards the front of the store, all in the same movement. My eyes trained to the glass doors, and my invincible attitude swelled as I realized that the rain had not yet begun…and that I was in clear view of the checkout counter. I resisted the urge to laugh with pure glee as I realized that there were no groups of slow-moving elderly women to hinder my progression down the aisle.
Up at the counter then, and not a soul in front of me. “Is this all for you today?” the clerk questioned, picking up my purchases and sliding them over the sensor. “That’s it, thanks!” I replied hurriedly. She bagged the items, stated my total, and my beloved debit card was out of my pocket, slid through the sometimes annoying/sometimes convenient machine, and placed back into my pocket with no hang-ups on wrinkles, shirt or belt loop on the way. “Would you like your receipt with you or in the bag?” “Just in the bag, yes, thanks so much.” “Have a nice day!” she called after me, and I gave a slight absent-minded wave as I continued on.
I rounded the corner and was two feet from the door, but, oh no. Rain is starting. But just a few drops. I’ll make it if I run, I’ve got good running shoes on, and my hair is up. I stepped just outside the door, grabbed my keys from my purse and clutched all my belongings as close to my body as humanly possible. Ready or not…
But what was that sound? A sound of pleasure…where…who…?
My curiosity overwhelmed my need for the perfect schedule. I looked to the right…nothing. Then to the left. At first, again nothing, and, disappointed, I began to gather myself together once more. Then, sudden movement. I turned again to the left.
A large wooden porch swing stood in front of the store. It was made up of two wooden benches which faced each other, with a foot rest in between and a latticed roof above. And it was moving, slowly yet surely, back and forth.
I could see the figure of a man on one side of the swing. He seemed to be in his late 30’s. He wore a navy baseball cap over his cropped hair, glasses, a long-sleeved plaid shirt covered by a navy jacket, brown belt, jeans and a worn yet unsoiled pair of tennis shoes. He seemed quite clean, and very well-put-together; almost like when you were younger and your mother dressed you for school, making sure that everything was matching and well-tucked-in.
I studied him for a moment, watching as he slowly leaned forward and backward in rhythm with the swing. As he turned slightly towards me, I caught my breath in the sudden realization that he had some form of mental handicap. So where were his parents? I half-glanced back at the store…they must be inside, attempting to achieve a quicker shopping trip without having him tagging along. Smart. I’d do the same thing.
His laugh drew my gaze back to the swing. He had gotten quite a rhythm going, and in celebration he leaned his head back, face turned upward to the sky. Eyes and mouth wide open, he accepted the now furiously-falling raindrops as they cascaded through the lattice and rested on his hat, his glasses and his face. Lifting his hands with palms raised towards the sky, as if to check and make sure that it was, indeed, still raining, he leaned his head back even farther and laughed a laugh that sounded as if it came from the very depths of his soul.
By that point, I was wet. Hopelessly wet. My hair that had been so perfectly pulled up was stringy, and falling down in various places. My makeup was slightly streaked from the raindrops, I knew. My bag and purse had each accumulated a heavy layer of moisture, as had pretty much the rest of my body, yet somehow, it didn’t seem to matter much to me anymore. I humbly began my short walk to the car, not even noticing the curtains of rain which continued to fall, having completely forsaken my original time-table for the day. I had hardly reached the car before the tears came.
After fumbling with the wet keys and dropping my belongings on the floorboard as I closed the door behind me, I covered my already-wet face and let the tears overcome me.
Maybe it was the sight of the man on the swing, and his pure joy at the rain, the rain that I had labeled inconvenient. Maybe it was the pressure of work, home, expectations of others, and just life in general. But I was suddenly faced with a jarring realization. In my hurry to accomplish my goals, I had forgotten His goals. Always busy, always rushing to be somewhere and pushing to make a deadline. Is that what He wanted?
A sudden remembrance of a long-ago-learned Bible verse came to my mind: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heave. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.'” (Matthew 18:1-5, NIV)
Sighing and wiping the moisture from my face, I made the choice to remind myself of that man, the man who took time to take pleasure in the rain as any little child would do, who jolted me out of myself and caused me to renew a resolve to live my life as a His child.
Backing out of my parking space with a slight smile, I turned to give one last glance to the man on the swing.
He was gone.