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HumankindNESS-We Are One

By Jennifer Richardson
I was in the checkout line at Walmart a few months ago. I was tired, and my back was hurting. I was rushed. I was making a quick trip to pick up a few ingredients I needed to finish some baking I had on hold at home.

I don’t remember being particularly observant about who was ahead or behind me in line, and I was checking my phone messages to be sure I was not missing any items on my list. I was very absorbed in my little world and my little needs. The rhythmic beeping of the grocery scanner seeped into my brain and I found myself gradually noticing the woman in front of me in line.

She never looked at her cell phone once. She did not appear to be in a hurry, if she was tired I could not tell, and she was speaking pleasantly with the check-out clerk about her day and the groceries she was purchasing for her household, which included her children and some of her grandchildren. Kindness floated in the air around her. Simply by her behavior I was reminded of the need to improve my attitude and take note of how my feelings might be impacting my responsibility to interact with others with consideration.

As I was reminding myself to smile and remember that I am blessed, the lovely woman finished up her grocery transaction and glanced back at my little pile of baking items. Two heartbeats later, she pulled out the wallet she had just returned to her handbag and she told the clerk she would like to pay for my order as well.

I thanked her for her kindness. She simply smiled and said she felt she should bless me that day. Just a minute later she was walking out the door and I will likely never know her name or her story. But I really didn’t need much more detail to know a bit about who she was.

I knew from her example that she valued people over devices, and that she was alive to the needs of those around her. She looked into the eyes of the clerk as she spoke to her, and she focused on others, even as she completed her ordinary habits.

Her life path crossed mine, and she responded to that still small voice that said, help when you can.

Last week my husband and I found ourselves in a restaurant after completing our own grocery shopping. We enjoyed a somewhat rare evening out together. Even with the completion of errands, grocery shopping, loading the car, and speaking through our face masks–it felt like a date and we took some quiet moments to soak up the feeling of time well-spent.

We try not to be distracted by our phones when we have these wonderful moments, so I found myself people-watching while waiting for my sweetheart to return from the salad bar.

To my right, and a few tables down, was a gentleman eating dinner without any companions. He had that air about him that he was not just by himself grabbing a bite; he seemed alone. My thoughts traveled back a few months to being alone in a checkout line and the kindness bestowed upon me by a person who simply noticed me, and helped.

My husband returned to the table in time to hear me ask the server for the bill. He said, honey I thought we already paid the bill. I said, we did, I am speaking of the bill for the man who is having dinner in the booth just down the aisle. Without skipping a beat, he smiled and said what he always says when I talk about the desire to be generous– sounds great.

Our server was happy to bring me the bill. Shrugging on our jackets, we departed and we passed the gentleman’s booth as we went. I gently placed the signed receipt on the edge of his table and said, have a wonderful rest of your evening. I only caught a brief glimpse of his smile as he realized he had been blessed with his dinner. I was honestly grateful to have had the opportunity to help when I could.

The woman who blessed me in the store, the man I was honored to bless in the restaurant– neither person shared my skin color, only one shared my gender, and the three of us have virtually no knowledge of each others’ life experience. Yet we are forever connected. Our paths crossed, and we viewed each other as worthy of our time and gifts, as valuable humans walking through life, helping and accepting help. 

In the end, we are one. When we help another, it helps us all.

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