On a sweltering summer evening, the pavement emanated waves of heat on the sidewalk outside of my local corner market. I ran into the store, scattered and hurried, wanting to get home to cook dinner and realizing that I’d forgotten to pick up some milk.
A group of boys blocked the way to the cooler, huddled there conspiringly, laughing in the direction of the aisle behind them. I gingerly moved through them, glancing to see what had caused the commotion.
There, seemingly oblivious to the stares and laughter, stood a tiny old woman, her frazzled gray hair spewing out wildly from underneath a man’s bowler hat, her body covered from shoulders to knees with a gray tweed suit jacket. Her feet poked out from underneath the oversized jacket with the surprising pop of a pair of bright pink tennis shoes.
The corner of my mouth turned up gently when I saw those shoes, but then my heart twisted at the sound of mockery within the store. Suddenly my mind came to itself, jarred awake and fully aware of this precious little woman shuffling her way to the register, still showing no expression, probably used to the way people look at her every day.
I hurried to purchase my milk and hustled out the jangling door to see if the woman were still there. She sat on the bench in front, clutching her bag of groceries, looking so small and forlorn, her eyes flashing an acknowledgment of my presence, encouraging me to draw near.
I knew her invitation just as clearly as if she had spoken it aloud.
We sat in silence for a while, the scent of night-blooming jasmine swirling all around us, a lull in activity in the parking lot we faced, and I was grateful for the quiet of it. When she began to speak, I sat very still, willing myself to just let her words flow with no interference from me. She spoke of the greatest love of her life, a gift from God.
She was there with him as they met and married, and bore his children joyfully. She was there as he worked in a career that he loved, their children had children, retirement brought them freedom to travel, and love remained a cord between them through it all, strong and true, laughter coming from every corner of their home.
How he loved to don his coat and hat, walking to the market every evening, past the ducks splashing in the pond, and past little boys waving their fishing poles with hopes of huge fish swimming through their imaginations.
Finally, she was there through a difficult winter, and even more difficult news. There were nurses, hospice care, and a funeral, all of their children and friends gathered around, daisies covering everything, just as he would have wanted.
She knows how she looks in his hat and oversized jacket. She hears what people whisper or even dare to say out loud. But to her she is still setting aside a special part of every day to honor the memory of the one she loved and continues to love, their bond surpassing even death itself.
Her love is so genuine and sure that it elicits her response to the world, far above the realm of what others are thinking.
I am reminded that love in my own heart is just a wonderful thought until I express it outwardly, and then it becomes its fullest in the sharing of it, even if misunderstood. This is exactly the way that God loves you and me, and even He was willing to be misunderstood, a fact I am so grateful for.
This little woman taught me, once again, to open my eyes and my heart, and to take the time really take a second look at the people I come across each day. We all have a story driving the costumes that we wear, the places that we go, the choices we make about way that we live our lives. We are simply souls doing our best to make our way home.
May we let our love and understanding help light the way home.
Related: Wear this beautiful necklace from Village Artisan and help write a story of hope of dignity for women in Northern India.Leave a Comment