Some time ago in Wal-Mart, a concept so simple, so authentic, and so unexpected appeared and reoriented my actions towards others. While standing in the check-out line with my mother, we took notice of an elderly women: she and her choice of hanging-plant were waiting behind us. Considering the number of our items, my mother insisted this women take our place in line, a courtesy to which the matriarch expressed her gratefulness. She proceeded to open her check book to purchase her hanging-plant, except she had misplaced her pen; once more, my mother extended a simple token of courtesy by offering a pen – again, a courtesy to which the matriarch expressed her gratefulness.
Both instances, this elderly women had an odd way of expressing her thankfulness: she was sincere. Despite my mother’s actions being relatively simple, this women responded with the most sincere “thank you.” I counted this as a lesson learned that younger generations have lost the art of gratefulness, or, at the least, expressing gratitude; my mother and I then checked out and returned to our vehicle – where we found the elderly women placing the hanging-plant into her trunk. My mother offered a third extension of grace by taking the women’s cart to the return. This elderly women put forth her most genuine thank you thus far and shared with my mother her experience with cancer: she, at that time, warred against the last stages and dreaded returning her cart. My mother’s simple, authentic, and unexpected actions relieved our new friend of unseen pain.
My mother actions spurred actions of simple grace within me – it is simple because the recipients neither appear to need it nor is the grace extravagant. My mother did nothing revolutionary or difficult, and she could have just as well held her place in line, let the cashier give the women a pen, and we would have left the parking lot first without ever knowing whom we were parked beside. My mother saved an old lady only five minutes and a scribble of ink, but it granted respite and a smile to someone who may not have even had the courage to express her pain.
Burdens plague everyone; some are positive and some are negative – but nonetheless we are a burdened people. A simple, encouraging gesture can lessen the burdens we share. As I noted, the women at Wal-Mart did not appear to be in great need: she was old, and the soon-to-be-her plant was probably mentally preparing to hang above the lady’s porch- no apparent struggle. Grace is non-discriminatory because it undeserved; simple is non-specialized because anyone can do it – our simple grace is doable and for everyone.