Back & forth I went as I conversed with myself while trying to make my decision.
"The larger package is only a savings of 3 cents over the smaller ones; which would actually be a better size anyway. But the larger one could be cut in thirds and frozen that way. That might work better."
Back and forth. Back and forth.
My choice needn't have been so difficult or time-consuming, but for some reason it was. It kept me standing at the meat counter far longer than I'd intended.
"Well now; I'm done with my shopping!" came a voice from somewhere behind me.
I glanced over my shoulder to see an elderly man standing beside me, his shopping cart neatly stacked with grocery items. It was then that I realized he was actually speaking to me.
"That about does it. And I got my Thanksgiving turkey, too. It's only 28 cents a pound."
He offered all this as if we'd been friends forever, just talking about grocery shopping as BFFs might do.
I smiled politely, and gave him the Thumb's Up sign, adding: "Good job! What a great cost savings ... a blessing for sure."
"Not really. Last year I only paid 19 cents a pound. Hey ... are you religious?"
Taken back only briefly, I replied: "I don't think so. Mostly I believe the scriptures and what Jesus did for and in me. He changed my life."
"That's what I thought: religious. I don't have anything to do with that stuff."
"Stuff?", I asked. "Have you had a bad experience with church, or with Christians?"
"Naw ... it's just that ... well... er .... a long time ago I lost my son."
"I'm so sorry to hear that. It must have been a terribly painful loss for you."
"Hey ... are those fresh green beans in your cart? You know, my wife adds a bit of onion & some bacon, then simmers them slowly for hours. They're the best!"
"I do that too. My mother was a farm girl, and that's how she cooked fresh green beans."
"You don't say?!! I've never met anyone that does them that way. You're the first."
By now we were walking towards the dairy aisle. My new friend kept pace with me, as if he needed dairy items too. Hadn't he just told me he was done with his shopping?
"My brother's religious. He's really wacky."
"Why do you say that? Is he overly zealous?"
"No, he has Alzheimer's (me, surpressing laughter, knowing he connected Christians to Alzheimer's victims). And he's younger than me. Would you believe I'm 95?"
"Wow. You're 95? That's amazing. I'm sorry about your brother."
By now I'm not sure what to do with my new friend. He was obviously in need of a conversation, never mind we were now blocking two aisles. I could tell he was regular at this, because every store clerk that walked by he greeted with familiarity; they responded in kind.
"Well, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving. God bless you."
"I thought you said you weren't religious?"
"Here's the deal ... I simply accept what Jesus did for me. If that's religious, then I'm guilty as charged."
"I don't believe in Him."
"Well, He believes in you!"
"Don't say that ... ", now quickening his pace to look me in the eye.
"You know, I do believe in God, just not the New Testament stuff.. It's all just a bunch of stuff the Catholics put together." (me supressing a soap box session on how much the early Church/Catholics gave us in the form of today's Canon)
"Really? I didn't know that. So let's just say we ignore the New Testament for a moment. Did you know the Old Testament says the exact same thing?"
"Who & what did God promise Adam & Eve from the git-go as the One who would ultimately defeat evil? Who is the King/Priest that will rule mankind? Who is Immanuel? Who is the suffering/saving Messiah? What were the feasts & atonement sacrifices meant to typify?"
I waited for it to sink in.
"By the way, my name's Ron. What's yours?"
"Do you know where I can find the sliced turkey; the kind you use for sandwiches?"
"You bet. Just head back down the deli aisle and you'll see it at the very end."
"Thank you, Kathleen; you've been kind"
"God bless you, Ron."
As I walked away I found myself chuckling a bit, but also humbled - - absolutely certain that God had ordained my 20 minute visit with Ron. I began praying silently; prayers that attended my thoughts throughout the day and continue still.
It is true: We just never know when a divine appointment is scheduled.
In case you're wondering, I bought the two individual packages of Italian sausage.
" ... in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect ...
~ 1 Peter 3:15
Footnote: There are so many dots to connect to this one experience I hardly know where to begin. I often pray: "Lord, lead me. Show me when & where & how to be Your hands & feet." Equally often I am dumbfounded when He orchestrates something profound in the midst of the mundane. God wanted Ron to know that he is loved. In the midst of that, the Gospel was shared. What was a routine jaunt to the store for me became a milestone of ministry. I came away with the sense that Ron's life will never be the same. I know mine won't.