Even life in the Costco checkout line can become "truer, more beautiful"
Not too long ago, I was in line at Costco and in front of me there was a very agitated and grumpy lady. In that moment, I could see in her what I saw in myself many times: a reactivity that does not go anywhere and that generates instead anger and frustration. An incredible tenderness sprung in my heart. It was such an experience of gratuitous love that it changed the substance of that moment: from a boring and potentially annoying situation with an unknown lady, it became a place of beauty – so much so I remember the details of her face (even if I haven’t seen her again) and I remember the concrete details of where we were and of the people around us. I had the desire to embrace her with all of myself. Something must have transpired because after we exchanged a few words, we became “friends” (as much as possible in a Costco line) and she became more attentive to the others in line, completely changing her attitude.
I feel almost ashamed to talk about this fact: can this be considered an event? I know that it looks like something really insignificant, almost laughable. I could explain it as a situation in which by being decently kind I cooled off a "problematic" woman, but I know myself, and I know that something deeper happened. While the situation was developing, I remember asking myself where all that love was coming from? Certainly not from my good disposition (I do not have that, especially at Costco). I was, in that precise moment, experiencing a love that wins any (or at least my) distraction, pettiness, and measure and that gratuitously and unexpectedly happens. Only a Presence that is alive and present can do that. That much was clear to me. I left Costco with the clear perception that probably nobody recognized it explicitly, not even the woman, but that He had happened in that particular spot and saved that piece of reality with His contemporaneity overflowing from my heart.
This kind of event, albeit simple, is a moment of faith. Even though in that moment I did not physically have anybody with me, the love I am part of in the Church – in the particular form of our friendship – somehow transpired, overflowing there too. I am, I love, because I belong to Him, that is, to the Church.
What is even, in some ways, more incredible to me is that I would have quickly settled instead (as many times I do in the banality of the day) for my measure on the woman at Costco, labeling her as one of the many frustrated and maybe problematic people you find. Instead, He changed all the parameters. I simply looked at the woman, and only because of what I experience belonging to the Movement, it happened that I could see her beyond the appearance and leave space for Him to happen. He helped me to live those moments in a new way – truer, more beautiful. Not even in my wildest dreams I would have thought I could love a stranger that way. It was He, though, who was loving her and I was simply drawn into the flow of this new life where He reigns and where the banality, the already known, can become total newness. Who would not want to live this way?
Ilaria, Kensington, MD