a little scarier and
the sky may
be falling. But
even we can
kindness and compassion.
– K. Chripczuk (found poetry)
As I mentioned in a recent video on my fb page, our washing machine died over the weekend. It was the last straw in a series of frustrating, flummoxing events. Although we have the money to replace it (thank you, thank you) it’s not an easy fix and certainly not a project we would choose to tackle this week.
All I wanted to do Monday morning was nestle into the Little House – to read, pray, practice yoga and return to my own sweet center. But what I needed to do was pick up my son’s negative Covid test, drop him at school, and then look at our laundry closet and make decisions about stacking or not, used or new, and (because we live in an old, old house) which walls or outlets or plaster we might want to move or replace in the near or distant future.
These were not conversations I wanted to be having, not decisions I wanted to be making. I didn’t want to be googling “best dryer brands” or messaging people on fb marketplace for the dimensions of their used washing machines. And, even though a new washing machine is a miracle in itself, I really didn’t want to be riding in the old red pickup truck to Home Depot (where everything was on back order) or Lowes.
I struggled to see how God or spirituality might be part of the day I found myself in. But I tried to stay present. I tried to have patience with the sales woman who could not get us what we wanted when we wanted it. I tried to remember her humanity as well as my own.
I tried, again, to find patience for the salesman at Lowes, who was a bit of a talker ,when all I wanted to know is which items were in stock. Looking back, I can see that it’s hard to connect with people, hard to look them in the eye, when you don’t want to be where you are, don’t want to connect with your own circumstances or yourself.
I’m sure we seemed worried and stressed, but we lightened up a bit once a decision was made. The salesman got chattier still when he found out where we live and he somehow rambled on to the topic of pets, cats in particular. In the end, holding our receipt hostage, he told us a story about “the best cat we ever had,” a small cat name Pickles.
Pickles, he told us, was procured one year when he and his wife went to pick out a tree at a local Christmas tree farm. “There was a little girl wearing a long prairie-like dress,” he said, gesturing with his hands as if to paint the dress before our eyes. “She had a little basket with a kitten in it.”
Again, he gestured with his working-man hands, creating an imaginary basket. Then, he placed one hand, palm up, in the center of his chest, just where someone would hold a wee kitten.
“She was this little,” he marveled. “She fit right in the palm of my hand. Except for her tail, hanging over the side. Except for her tail, she was just that big.” Again, he gestured, showing with his other hand how the sweet little tail would have draped out over his wrist. Pickles lived to be 17 years old and, finally, just stopped eating. The vet told them to let her be, it was “just her time.”
Isn’t it something, how that cat story showed up so unexpectedly right in the middle of our day? Our salesman went to a farm looking for a Christmas tree and came home with a kitten. We went to Lowes looking for a washing machine and came home with a love story.
I watched the salesman’s hands eyes as he wove his tale, they were cinnamon brown with gold flecks. Even though the day was harder than I wanted and, in some ways, the sky did feel like it was falling, this man and his story helped me find what I was looking for all along. Sometimes all it takes is a story and a stranger’s eyes, to lead our hearts back home.