i was standing in front of the bulk bins at the store, contemplating dry black beans versus canned.  i was having a momentary existential crisis, churned up by beans, of all things.  black beans, of course, stood in for bigger money issues, which at the moment were giving me both a headache & a stomachache.  (such a funky-looking word, eh?)  i was not winning the war for valuing true wealth. i was losing horribly, actually.

as i walked back & forth anxiously between shelf & bean bin, i had to stop & ask for a good word:  “i’m screwing this up, not getting the peace part right at all.  please help me see what my life is really about.  i can’t see straight.”

i replaced the can of black beans & walked back to the bulk section, picking up my old granny jar to fill with flour.  as i scooped light brown powder into my gallon jar, squatting on the linoleum floor, an elderly woman pushed her near-empty cart alongside me, scanning the shelves & moving slowly.  she looked a little lost.  she was so small & frail.  she looked like she needed a thousand hugs.

i suddenly wasn’t thinking about myself.

“what is that?” she asked, eyeing my jar with the 1970’s red & yellow lid.

“spelt flour,” i answered her.  “i use it instead of wheat.  some of my kids are sensitive to wheat, so we use spelt instead.”

looking over the small collection of items at the bottom of her cart, she said, “i’m not supposed to have wheat.”

“you should try spelt,” i said, enthusiastically.

she looked warily at the rows & rows of indecipherable bin tags.
“maybe i could get someone to help me. . . .” she said quietly.

i nearly cried.

“I can help you,” i said.  “i don’t mind at all.”

“oh,” she answered, slightly embarrassed that she’d need help, that this tall bald woman was her solution.  “i just had eye surgery.  i can’t really see all those numbers.”

{GOOD GRIEF.  what had i even been complaining about in my head meager minutes ago?  i may have a tight squeeze in my checkbook, BUT WHO CARES.  I CAN SEE.  & i can move any-which-way, & i don’t have to relearn how to eat at 80 years old, &. . . .}

i crouched down easily in front of the bin near the floor, suddenly feeling like an acrobat, & scooped flour until she told me to stop, just 3 or 4 shovelfuls.  what a small amount, i thought.  of course, it is:   she’s cooking & baking only for herself. {GOOD GRIEF.  i have a husband happily alive at home (at least he should be.  who knows what the kids have done in my absence.) & four lively, huggable children.  i am not alone.  not even remotely.  (not even when i want to be.)  GOOD GRIEF.}

after i tied up the plastic bag for her & wrote the bin number on the twisty-tie, with “spelt” beside it in small block letters, i handed her the flour.

“that’s so sweet of you.  thank you SO MUCH.”

& then she wheeled her cart down the aisle, while i rethought my life.

: : : :

we’re powerful, aren’t we?

i didn’t plan on being anyone’s superhero, but sometimes that’s who we are & where we are.  sometimes there are people around us that need something from us:  a smile. a kind word.  a little help.  a pat on the back.  a scoop of flour.

miniscule things that take miniscule time or effort.

we each have a power to wield, for good or otherwise, every single day.  with our spouses.  with our kids.  with our co-workers.  or with grocery store clerks or the mailman or our kid’s teacher.  with tiny old ladies at the store.

to think i nearly missed it because i was obsessing over meaningless numbers in the bean aisle.  to think i nearly missed an opportunity to put value into the world because i couldn’t see out from under my huge self.


give me clarity, or send me home.

8 thoughts on “superheroes.

  1. Beautiful, beautiful…except next time, make just the observation that you were distracted by life, instead of the judgment that it would make you anything but human. How quickly God can use us, even in our distraction!

  2. When we’re drowning, there is always a hand. Either one to reach down to pull us up or our own hand, to reach up and out. Keep reaching up and out hon. You do it well. ❤

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