Those of us in formation for ordination had a retreat weekend last Spring with our Bishops here in ECCT. They tasked us to go out, two by two, into the surrounding community and see where we found Jesus.
As I got in the car with my partner, he said, “so…what should we do?”
“We should go to a grocery store,” I replied. He looked at me quizzically. “God’s always at the grocery store,” I insisted.
I am the primary hunter and gatherer for my family. I make the meal plans, I handle the food budget, I go to the stores, and I buy what we need for the week. My husband is a much better cook than I, and when he is home he’s the primary food prepare-er – but I am the planner and procurer.
In my job as an Elder Care Aide, I would often go to the grocery store 3-4 times a day for different clients.
I am very comfortable and familiar with grocery stores, is what I’m saying. And I insist, to you the reader, to my partner on retreat, and to every one who walks into a grocery store, that God is always there.
A grocery store is a confined, defined, space of people in need. People need food, yes. They also need help getting their carts, reaching an item, cleaning up a spill, finding what they’re looking for. They need someone to talk to. They need space to be left alone. They need food and money donations for whatever they’re collected for at the entrance. They need patience in line.
Grocery stores care not about class. Only the very very poor and the very very rich do not go to them. The rest of us, the majority of society, we are there at any given time. We are all thrust together with our needs.
If you take a deep breath and begin with awareness of this, of everyone’s needs, of God’s presence, your grocery trip becomes ministry. Every time I go to a grocery store, I am given the opportunity to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world. Every time.
I smile at a fussy baby. I tell the Mom she’s doing great. I give my cart to a person coming in and grab the next one. I tell someone what aisle the spices are in. I reach the cereal on the top shelf for someone in an assisted cart. I tell the cashier I hope the day goes smoothly. I thank the bagger for doing such a good job. I leave my quarter in the cart at Aldi for the next shopper. I double up my canned goods so I can donate what my family needs to the food pantry for what another family needs. I help someone lift their heavy water bottles into their trunk. I look at my full car of groceries and thank God that we are able to buy them, that my family will be fed and nourished and treated this week.
God is always at the grocery store. You have to go to the grocery store regularly.
Why not meet God while you’re there?