I’m writing this at 2:25 AM, but I’m going to wait until a more respectable hour to post it so the pinging of your phone doesn’t interfere with your ability to rest just because I am up and typing this early. My arm hurts where the lady shot me. We got our 2nd vaccines yesterday and we are grateful, but…nope. I’m going to stop right there. We are grateful. We are choosing to be so. Someone (a whole lot of them, actually!) who was a whole lot smarter than I am, found a way to create vaccine options for this awful virus and then made it available. We get to choose what we do with that. I, for one, am choosing to be eternally grateful…and temporarily sore.
As I tried to find a comfortable position that also keeps an icepack in place, I’ve been running through a list of other things that have sparked gratitude recently, as well. It’s a good way to pass the time when you can’t sleep. So far, my list consists of a few stories from Sunday morning right up until the very nice lady with the great big smile shot us.
We’ve been careful during all of the pandemic stuff. REALLY careful. We have a whole list of physically vulnerable friends and family and we’ve actually lost quite a few, so to be honest, we donned masks, became experts at social distancing, and stayed home a WHOLE lot more (perhaps not as difficult for us as for some, since we’re both introverts). Additionally, we kept on doing the same things my husband’s oncologist told us to during THAT adventure over 20+ years ago. It seems to have been working for us for at least 20 + years, so…we’ve been here before. We know how this feels.
Like a lot of people, however, we get tired of it sometimes and we need to get out of the house for a drive in the countryside. We did that Sunday morning after my husband saw a message from a wonderful lady-friend who runs a show we used to do. She said that another, smaller show (NOT hers) had been held the day before in the rain and the storm made quite a mess of things. It was a small show in an even smaller town. We’ve worked that show before and we know that even on the pretty days, it may not get a lot of traffic. We’ve been there before. We know how it feels. Having wind blow tents over while trying to sell rain ruined product or messed up labels just makes it extra hard for these small business owners, so the organizers were giving them a “free day”/do-over day. Artists and crafters have taken a beating during the pandemic. Our friend was trying to drum up extra customers for these people she didn’t know in a show that wasn’t her own. Kindness; paying it forward. We are big fans of this concept!
We set off to see if we could help bring a few dollars in for someone. The message came in early and the show was only about 45 minutes away, so we arrived while the town was still pretty quiet. There were just a few people on the sidewalks and absolutely no one sitting outside in the shady boardwalk of another small business/restaurant combo as we looked for a parking spot. It was cold. There was still quite a bit of chilly wind, but at least the sun was out. It seemed a good number of people might have parked on main street and walked to church so they could have a handy parking spot later. We decided to stop for a quick bite before moving on to the show. Restaurants have also taken a beating during this pandemic and we have family who make their living that way, so we’ve been there and we know how that feels.
An old man sitting in a rocking chair spoke a welcome to us as we walked down the sidewalk. The staff at the restaurant side was cheerful and helpful in helping us pick what we should order. They even brought something to weigh down the napkins on the table when they brought our food. Did I mention it was still cold? The sunshine had fooled me into leaving my jacket in the truck, so I made my way back to get it.
As I headed back to the table, I passed two women sitting where the older gentleman had been on my first trip. These ladies had found their sweet spot—literally. They were chowing down on a heaping paper plate full of fried dough with a mound of confectioner’s sugar on top. My husband used to love those things, so I paused momentarily to ask if it was a good one. Both of the ladies IMMEDIATELY confirmed it by happy vocal sounds, licking fingers and rapid head shakes as they lifted the plate toward me…and asked if I’d like a bite! Yes, they did! They offered a complete stranger part of their funnel cake right in the middle of main street and during a pandemic. I was more touched by their kindness than I could say, but since I am NOT a funnel cake fan and I had lunch and my husband waiting, I politely declined and moved on, absolutely gratified beyond words by their generous spirits.
I mentioned that we were early and I mentioned the wind. Did I mention that it was cold? I’m certain it was that last detail that kept the patrons off the boardwalk where we pulled up chairs to the only table where there was a tiny sliver of sunlight to blunt the cold as we ate our lunches and talked about how God was speaking to us individually and as a team of two. We enjoyed the delicious food and the caring visits of the ones who prepared and served it as they braved the wind tunnel to make sure we were doing ok…in a tiny town with friendly people everywhere.
We were. They shared their smile along with their delicious food and we were grateful for both.
As we were finishing up our lunches, another intrepid couple headed toward us with the waitress. They were also looking for a place away from the crowds and had noticed the wind. Did I mention it was cold? I saw her shiver as she passed me, so I did the first thing that came to mind. We were through, so I stood up and said, “We’re about to bless you by sharing our sliver of sunshine while you eat. We hope you’ll enjoy your lunch!” It wasn’t as big a deal as offering to share a funnel cake, but they were most appreciative and mentioned that they had just commented on how cold it was. I had noticed. We’ve been there. We know how it feels.
The waitress cleared our table for them and we moved on toward the show. We found a couple of small items for future gifts and tried to encourage a few intrepid vendors who came back to take advantage of a free day to replace the paid one of disaster. Waiting and wondering if people will come and if they will find value in what you’re made and pay you for doing so, can be rough. We’ve been there. We know how it feels.
I’ve thought about that quite a bit since then. Our world has become so contentious and it seems that no matter what position you take, there’s a whole contingent of voices ready to yell you down and tell you how wrong you are. What we need to remember is that we’ve ALL been there and we know how it feels. It’s ok to disagree and walk away without comment. That is actually possible. It’s just fine if everyone isn’t just like me…or you—in fact, it’s often a good thing. God deliberately made us all different. Remember that! We also need to remember how it feels to be kind, to share, to get out of our comfort zones and try to help someone who might be having a more difficult time than we are (yes, that’s still possible, too). Kindness goes a long way toward making the hard things we face more bearable. Even if you don’t have a funnel cake to offer, you can still smile, be kind, extend some grace, offer friendly greetings, and share the sunshine…especially when it’s really cold.
FYI, you can also smile, be kind, and say “THANK YOU!” to people who serve the public in any capacity, including those who wait tables or stand out in the weather to shoot you. We know. We’ve been there.
Grace and Peace!
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 (NIV)