Sunday, November 8, 2009

Our Own Way

Every once in a while, we get a startling experience showing the stark reality of a place that we lived before but we live no longer. And so it was Saturday when Melanie and I made an excursion to Town.

We stopped at a local Card Store to purchase a Sympathy Card. We were intent upon the seriousness of our mission and were not thinking about much of anything else. Upon arrival, we were surprised that the Store was a virtual beehive of activity. We bypassed the activity and headed straight to the Sympathy section.

While seeking the right card, we were occasionally distracted by the bustling activity, the opening and closing of what seemed like a multitude of distinctly different Musical Cards, and the Music overhead which included occasional upbeat Holiday Tunes. All these things were clearly outside the boundaries of our Quest.

After finding the right card, we headed straight to the Cashier. We were late for that next very important engagement so we had clearly in mind a speedy exit. With the 2 Cashiers in view, we discovered that a whole line of people stood in front of us. Each was laden with Holiday Shopping Purchases and Coupons. All had to pass by the counter of Chocolates, which meant still more purchases. With the overall amount over a given value, the Kindly Clerk offered the eager Customer a lovely discount on yet another Gift. It seems we had made our way into the Store during a festive Annual Open House.

So we stood in line for 20-25 minutes with time to ponder what was going on. We used to stand in those lines laden with many similar purchases, but we do so no longer. We were faced with the stark reality of our shift in Life Styles and the fact that many in that line were not on that page. Nevermind, both of us were dressed in Overalls. That was a standout difference too.

I was really quite proud of us. We just stood in line with our eyes wide open. For us, Christmas is not a commercial event. Relationships are more than an exchange of the material. If Money is available for Gifts which are neither endurable or needed, perhaps the Money should go to someone who needs Food or Heat.

When I got home, I thought about some of the things we could have done while we stood in line. I could have offered a "Kiosk", sharing what I now know. I would kindly ask the Holiday Shopper the product's origin. From there, I could show pictures of where the product was from, the living conditions of the People who produced the product, the small Children who produced it, the costs to the Earth in its production, the belching fumes of the Factories, the use of Energy and the Contribution to Global Warming of its transportation. We could have "fast forwarded" to the lifespan of the product, how long it would last, and where it would go from there.

We also could have "fast forwarded" to show what will happen to all that wrapping paper after it is removed from the Gift. As an alternative, we could have a craft table where the Shoppers could have produced reusable gift wrap from recyclable products. Folks could have gotten their Gift Wrap done while they were waiting in line.

But of course, those things are important to me. And I did none of those things on that memorable day. Instead we just smiled and kept focused on our mission.

We are deeply grateful that we do not live in those spaces any more. We need not force our beliefs on another. We are each finding our own way in our own time.

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