Rather than share a list of what I am thankful for, I’m going to tell you a story. Yesterday, I was in a big rush to get some errands done before I was supposed to meet with a friend. I went to the feed store to get dog food, the library to return a DVD and check out a book, and then to get groceries.
On the way out of the grocery store, I was irritated. I forgot to get hamburger for the dogs and bananas for the monkeys (that would be Sam and me), but I did not want to go directly back into that same store. I decided to make a quick stop at the grocery store that is right on the way home and get the rest of what I needed, but that meant hurrying even faster. Because I was really rushing now, I didn’t even acknowledge the Salvation Army bell ringer, even though he told me “Happy Thanksgiving.” And my internal dialogue was ugly and nasty on the way to my car, snarling at every person who got in my way and slowed me down.
Finally, I was in my car and headed to the next store. When I arrived, I reached for my purse…and it wasn’t there! I checked in the trunk, not there either. I had left my purse in the shopping cart in the basket return at the last store.
I told myself not to panic on the drive back, that it was the day before Thanksgiving and people were kind and honest, most of the time. And yet, the hurrying I did on the drive back was borderline road rage, following too close (to the point that people turned around and glared at me), going too fast, swerving, and changing lanes.
When I got back to the store, there were six customers in line at the service desk and I had to wait. I kept telling myself to stay calm, not to panic, not to get worked up over something that might not end up being true. But, both of my pairs of prescription glasses where in there, credit cards, my driver’s license, calling cards, work keys, a usb drive with my writing and pictures on it. If it was really gone, I’d spend the rest of the day dealing with the process of canceling and replacing. When it was my turn at the counter, I asked if there was a lost & found, explained that I’d left my purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot about 15 minutes ago. She asked me what my bag looked like, and leaned under the counter.
The feeling that flooded me when I saw my purse in her hands, heard her say “they brought it in right after you left,” wasn’t relief, it was sadness and shame. If I had been being mindful, like I always say is so important to me, I never would have left my purse in the cart in the first place. My rushing, lack of attention, and rudeness deserved worse luck than this.
On the way back out of the store, I stopped at the Salvation Army red bucket. I told the bell ringer, “I am putting this $20 in the bucket, but before I do, I want to say why. When I was here just fifteen minutes ago, I was in a hurry and rushed past you, not even acknowledging you. I was in such a rush, I left my purse in a shopping cart in the parking lot, but someone was kind enough to turn it in. I am putting this $20 in for that person, and to apologize for being a jerk before.” He was quiet while I gave my confession, my speech rushed and my voice cracking from time to time. I’m sure he thought I was unstable, (which wasn’t exactly wrong at that moment), and he said “Well, thank you, and have a happy Thanksgiving.”
For food in a world where many walk in hunger. For friends in a world where many walk alone. For faith in a world where many walk in fear. For kindness in a world where we aren’t always kind. I give thanks.