Laborers Who Brighten the Day

May all our labors plant seeds of hope and love.

This morning I woke up thinking about Labor Day and about the laborers who brighten my life. As a home maker, one of the places I frequent is the grocery store, so the laborer I woke up thinking about this morning are the ones who brighten the day for those of us doing mundane things like grocery shopping.

I’ve lived in the same house for the past 20 or so years, and shop regularly at a couple of local grocery stores.

When we first moved to the area, we met Willie.  Willie worked at Harris Teeter and I believe his job was to greet and care for the customers and he did a wonderful job of it. He always made us feel special and welcome. He’d talk to my children and ask about how everyone was. Once I told him we were heading off on vacation to visit my family in FL and he said wait a minute and walked off and then came back with a bag of candy which he gave us for the long drive. He was always doing things like that, things to brighten people’s day.

One of Willie’s jobs was to set up the annual Easter egg hunt behind the grocery.  We didn’t usually go to these because we had a lot of other activities going on and he noticed and commented on the fact that we didn’t show up for the hunt. The next year he invited us, so we decided to go.

Finding an Easter Egg

There were kids all over the place hunting for the eggs hidden in the grass. My son who was around two or three at the time found two eggs. Willie came up to him after the hunt and asked him what he had found.  Jeremy showed him his two eggs. Willie said, “There are some children that didn’t find any eggs, can I have one of yours to give to one of them?” Jeremy handed Willie one of his eggs. Willie looked at me and smiled and I thought what a great man Willie is. He was always giving us things, always asking about us and brightening our day, but this day he gave my son the opportunity to share what he found with someone else. In his special way, Willie was teaching my son to be generous. This sticks in my mind so powerfully. He could have said aww you only found two eggs, there were a lot of children who found many more, but instead he made him feel fortunate to find two and also gave him the chance to share his good fortune.

Another time, in that same grocery store, I was shopping alone and the butcher came out from behind his work area and walked up to me with a look of concern and asked, “what’s wrong?” I was startled, and asked, “why do you ask?” He said, “You always have your kids with you, always… and they are not here.” I told him my husband had been in a bad accident, hit by a car while bicycling and was in the hospital and friends were helping me out and the children were home with some of them. He not only took time to notice, but he came and asked when he saw something was wrong and he let me know that he’d be praying for us. God brings comfort in so many ways!

These laborers, the cashiers, the bakers, the deli workers, the produce people, the ones who take time to smile, to say, “Hi, how are you?  How are the kids?” (and still ask, even though they are grown), and mean it… I’ve been blessed to have them in my life and am so thankful for them. When I think of them and see their smiling faces in my mind, I ask God to remind me to pray for them and I thank him for the friendly faces and kind words of strangers.

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