Wednesday, February 8, 2017

From Carolyn...


The first thing I saw was the tiger. I was scurrying through a newly renovated grocery store searching for a couple of items I needed. Our Super Bowl party started in a little over an hour and I still had to pick up the pizza.

When I stopped for a minute to consult my list, I glanced up and came nose to nose with the tiger. It was a huge furry stuffed animal with a friendly grin. The big guy carrying it could barely get one arm around the tiger while he juggled his cart with his other hand, which held the strings of some high-flying balloons.

Such an unexpected sight made me smile and I casually said, “Looks like someone’s gonna be pretty happy.” I was expecting a return smile and perhaps a “Yep” as he moved on. That’s not what I got.

This man with his arms full of tiger and balloons stopped, turned to me and in a strong but kindly voice said, “My cousin is a long-haul truck driver. While passing through Boise he had a stroke and has been in the hospital for a week. I’m from Seattle and have come to be with him. I’ve been here the whole week. My cousin is a huge Patriots’ fan so I’m taking these balloons and this big ole stuffed tiger over to the hospital to cheer him up as we watch the Super Bowl together.”

It took me a moment to digest what I heard and to ponder what I would do next. Shoppers were hurrying by as we stood in the middle of Albertsons. I no longer saw the tiger or the balloons. I saw a person who had opened up to me just a bit about a very hurtful situation in the life of someone he carried about. And in his life.   I said, “I am so sorry. This is really hard. May I pray for your cousin and you?” He responded with, “Yes, thank you.” I prayed, we chatted a moment more and then I started pushing my cart again. He bid me good-bye and said as I left, “God bless you Ma’am.”  I turned back and repeated his words, “And God bless you.”

As I was leaving the store a pleasant clerk stopped me and she whispered, “You have your jacket on wrong-side-out.”

I chuckled, rearranged my jacket and took my things through the wind to the car. It was then I noticed how wild my windblown hair looked. I laughed again and started thinking. In the store it had not mattered to the well-groomed man from Seattle who was wearing an Air Force cap, that a person so different from him, an older white woman from Boise with wild hair and her jacket on wrong-side-out, had offered to pray for his cousin and for him. I think he saw someone who listened and cared enough to respond, not to what was in his hand but what was on his heart. I was blessed by our “chance” encounter and I trust he was too.

Super Bowl Sunday was really super for me. I learned two things—

Even when I’m not at my best God can use me to listen and show His compassion to another.
Not everyone carrying a balloon is going to a party.

Warmly, and cheering you on,


P.S. In reflection, I also learned that because of the man in the hospital recovering from a stroke who was a huge Patriots’ fan there was at least one good reason for the Patriots to win the Super Bowl, contrary to the opinion of several at our Super Bowl Party!

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