"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Saturday, March 06, 2004
In Your Face
re-vul-sion Function: noun
Etymology: Latin revulsion-, revulsio act of tearing away, from revellere to pluck away, from re- + vellere to pluck -- more at VULNERABLE
1 : a strong pulling or drawing away : WITHDRAWAL
2 a : a sudden or strong reaction or change b : a sense of utter distaste or repugnance
3 : a feeling that can come on you suddenly in a grocery store
I had one of those spiritual life changing moments yesterday at the grocery story check out.
And no, it had nothing to do with the bill being higher than I expected or anything. It had more to do with my deepest beliefs and how I live them.
I was running into the store to buy a couple of items on our way to dinner at a Peruvian Restaurant last night. All of the employees know me by name, and they all stop what they are doing and tell me hello when I come in. I always smile and wave back, and speak to them when I check out. They have pretty bland jobs, and I know that not many people give them much respect, so I go out of my way to do it.
A lot of times I will make a special effort to compliment an article of clothing, a hairstyle, or something else that I know about them. "I still think those earrings are awesome, Cindy." "How's the burn on your hand healing, Olga?" "How's the massage business, Royal?"
(I should point out here that Royal is a professional licensed masseuse. Don't want to spread the wrong impression!)
Or, if the employee is Fico, I just wave, because he is from Peru and can't speak English. We just do the grin and howdy thing and he loves it. His wife Olga always calls me "Sir" like it was my first name.
Anyways, last night when we went in I noticed a new cashier, a Latin American or Mexican lady. As I glanced at her, it looked like she had a pronounced mustache. And something about it was disturbing to me. But that quickly passed as my wife and I wandered the store trying to remember what we had intended to buy.
A few cases of drinks and pieces of fruit later, we headed for the checkout lines. I look at the new cashier, my goodness that mustache is REALLY dark, how gross.
I hopped into one that was manned by Fico and Olga's daughter, a fairly pretty young girl with a huge smile. A lot of the time they all work the same schedule. Food Lion is truly their life. The lady in front of me only had a few items left to ring up when the line to my right emptied.
My wife says "Quick, go over there." And I look, its the new cashier. I tried to nonchalantly avoid going over there, I hate female mustaches, but its been said now so I run my cart over to her lane. I line the cart up and the cashier with the mustache turns towards me.
But it's not a mustache. It's a horrible, horrible harelip, far worse than any I have ever seen before.
She looks at me and says something to me. There is no possible way I can make it out, because its in heavily Spanish accented English, spoken with a harelip.
She looks me right in the eyes and says...who knows what, I still can't understand it.
So I do the failsafe maneuver (nod and smile), hand her my VIP discount card, and walk over towards the ATM terminal. Apparently that was what she wanted, as she started ringing things up and sliding them down towards Fico, who was bagging.
My heaven's, that poor lady, it looks like half her face is missing.
I try to avoid looking at her face, but darn it, after a smile and nod and hello at Fico, we had exhausted our common vocabulary. My wife had, of course, wandered off to look at a Glamour magazine, leaving me to deal with this alone. Figures, when I want small talk...
I am fiddling with my wallet so I won't have to look up. Now, I have a strong stomach, nothing much bothers me. I pride myself on being able to look beyond a deformity. But I was actually feeling sick to my stomach. This one was bad.
Imagine my surprise when I looked at her left hand, which was unadorned except for her wedding band.
To someone, this was the most important person in the world.
Here I was, trying not to look at her face, and somewhere someone was eagerly waiting on that face to come home to them tonight. How humbled can you be. Here I was, a person who prides myself on looking beyond the veils, and yet I could not make myself do it this time.
Inside of that misshapen face was a golden soul that God values very highly indeed, probably more so than many people that are pleasing to look upon. I had focused on the flesh, when God focuses on the heart, because that's where beauty lives, after all.
I can say that now, but I have to be honest and admit that at the time my mind didn't really go along that track. When she had me all rung in I said "Debit card, no money back" so she would not have to ask me. Of course, she didn't understand, so we had an exchange of debit/credit, and another one where I was saying "no money back" and she was responding "twenty back?" in her harelipped Spanish.
When I left, she said "Thank you, come again." I looked her right in the face, and realized what I think really broke my heart more than anything else.
With what she had, she would always be unable to smile.
Her mouth simply lacked the facility to move that way.
She would have to go through her entire life with a frown, no matter how joyful she was.
Well, I for one will not let her go without a smile whenever I am in there in the future to give her one of mine.
Somehow, in my heart of hearts, I know that she deserves it.
Few things in the world are more powerful than a positive push. A smile. A word of optimism and hope. A "you can do it" when things are tough.
Richard M. DeVos