Approx. read time: 3:10 min.
This morning, as I approach the little downtown market I walk to every Sunday, I notice that it is closed.
Well, it’s the Independence Day holiday, and I wasn’t connecting those particular dots.
My option is to walk south eight blocks and over to a big supermarket which I avoid because, like all national supermarket chains, it lacks the unique vibe of my little downtown market.
As I approach the checkout with my two bunches of kale, three Fuji apples, and a couple of bags of dried fruits, I initiate a greeting with the checker.
I am surprised, frankly, that she has not greeted me first. But quickly I come to my senses: She is young—maybe a debt-burdened college student, working on a national holiday for a humiliating and inadequate wage, for a corporation that may regard her as a drag on the bottom line.
It’s also a Sunday morning, and hey, she may have a Saturday night social life.
“How are you doing today?” I ask. She cannot see my smile behind my mask, any more than I can see the particular and precious self behind her mask.
“Okay,” she says. Her dispassionate response doesn’t mask an exhausted spirit.
“Do you get some time off today or tomorrow to celebrate the holiday?” I ask.
“Um, no, not really.”
So I am thinking now about forms of love. In particular, my forms of love.
Aside from the sheer rattling experience of using the U-scan self-checkout machines which, with every beep communicate to the few remaining checkers: You can be replaced, I prefer to go through the old-fashioned form of checkout, precisely for the encounter with another human being.
Think about checkers: They’re on their feet, dealing with cranky customers, for low pay, in big boxy noise-drenched, fluorescent-lit stores.
And all I have to do is pull out my cloth bags, my credit card, and express a little neighborly love, a little empathic kinship, which is what we all need, at least once a day. You know, a sense that we still are threaded one to another.
Like you, I have other forms of love, too.
My work is a form of love, and the ideas that flow through my arm, my hand, my pen, and onto the page—all forms of love.
Looking into the little green camera light at the top of my laptop screen when I record a video is a form of love going out to people I may never meet this side of heaven.
Listening is a form of love. Every conversation is a new journey into the life, the universe, the unique orbit of this particular other who entrusts to me what they’re dealing with and where they are with that.
Closer in, tending my plants, cleaning my apartment, folding laundry, preparing a meal, cleaning up afterward—all forms of love.
And why not!
What I notice is that one expression of love apprentices my heart and mind and spirit for the next invitation to love.
And this is the point: You and I are endlessly invited into new expressions of love, new forms of love, new generosities of heart and mind and spirit, in order to bless the world we touch.
I want to live what the little French Carmelite Thérèse of Lisieux (who died at the tender age 24) professed: “My only motive is love.”
I want to live, and to bless, this generously.
I want my heart to be transformed in this way.
Ask yourself …
- What are my forms of love? Providing for my family? Caring for an aging parent or fragile family member? Doing mundane work which is just a cover for loving encounter? Working, say, in a path lab where every specimen is an invitation to prayer? or a checkout line where every customer is an invitation to bless?
- What are some ordinary, or boring, or even unpleasant or challenging parts of my life that are now ready to become forms of love, flowing from my heart to the world I touch?
Break open your power to bless!