I meet God at Walmart.
Like the day I was blocking the cheese aisle, my toddler dangling his feet from the wire basket of my unwieldy cart. I apologized to the elderly woman waiting to pass through. Robed in a trench coat, mouth hidden under a mask, she looked at me and said something like, “Galatians chapter five, verse twenty-two . . . patience. We’ve got to live it out.” Her throat opened a portal from the heavens and in her voice, I heard the rhythms of a place where there is no rush because there is no time. “Amen,” I said as she stepped past, elegant and slow as if she was walking down the aisle towards the doors of some sudden sanctuary.
God comes to Aldi, too. Lately, my son has been testing the limits of his nascent autonomy. He is fond of saying No . . . his wide, walnut eyes meeting mine in challenge. My husband and I have begun to discuss the shape of discipline — a necessary parental labor I dread. Nevertheless, in the produce section, amidst the carrots and Brussels sprouts, a middle-aged man struck up a conversation with me about — of all things — discipline. “We have to chastise our kids for their good,” he said.
I replied to the man that I had just been reading about discipline in Proverbs. He then quoted: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Days ago, I’d read that same verse. I tried to quote it with him, but he finished before I could overcome my wonder.
I was stunned. Just that morning, as our son stood whining by the breakfast table, my husband mentioned how we’d need to start giving time-outs . . . or something. Anything to guide our son’s growing, often misguided sense of independence. That morning, I’d told my husband it would be good to ask for advice. And, just like that, God’s kind, present shepherding brought us the truth we needed to hear.
God meets my husband at Walmart, too. Once, my husband popped in for juice and milk while I waited in the parking lot with our son. After an unusually long wait, he finally returned. “I have an incredible story to tell,” he said.
“I believe it!” I replied. “God works at Walmart.”
By now, I know those blue vestments sometimes hide incognito angels. My husband shared how he’d been waiting in line, and an associate in a blue apron told him to move to another line. While waiting, he and the man in front of him began to chat. About jazz, about God. My husband noticed the man was holding bandages and other medical items. When the man arrived at the cash register, my husband overheard how his card couldn’t cover everything he needed. The man told the cashier he would put some of the items back, but my husband stepped in to pay the difference. Joyously surprised, the man gave my husband a blessing.
Later in the car, we talked about the uncanny precision of it all: how before our Walmart trip my husband had picked me up from an event that had ended earlier than anticipated, which allowed us to arrive at Walmart at just the right time. We talked about how my husband was moved to another line for no apparent reason, and how God so loved the man holding an armload of balms — a man seeking to assuage unnamed pains — that He placed a fellow brother there to meet his needs . . . and that God so loved my husband that He would allow him to be, and to receive, a blessing.
God meets us at Walmart, which is to say, God meets us in our ordinary everydays. He is beautifully and incomprehensibly weaving through our daily lives, appearing in trench coats and masked faces, in Aldi’s fresh produce section, and in Walmart’s interminable lines. In car rides to school and work. In the middle of shoe-shopping or dishwashing or onion-dicing. The divine flashes in a grandeur so subtle we’re likely to miss it.
And most often I do. Most often, I’m so focused on my drive to work that I miss the violet and clementine tableau of sunrise. Most often, I’m rushing to cram my son’s sneakers on his feet and miss the glory of being near this once-in-a-universe soul birthed from my body. But I still try to be on the lookout. I am trying, by grace, to open my eyes to see the hidden workings of God.
And, oh, there is so much good to see.Leave a Comment