Grocery lines to phone lines


“I’m going to head out now, so I can get there when they open and get on home.”

I mention this on my way out the door, to my husband, already in “telecommute” mode of this first day of our self-quarantine. Me? I was on a mission. Bleach. Birthday cards. Stamps. Come into contact with as few people as possible.

But that is hard to do when a city of people is scrambling for essentials, and non-essentials. When all are in a panic, and you think everyone around you is going downright crazy.

“Darn, I have no reason to fight you today. You don’t have water or toilet paper,” said the voice behind me.

There were 5 of us all gathered around the 2 registers that were open. Trying as much as we could to practice the “social distancing” rule of staying within 6 feet away from each other. Maybe even trying as much as we could to check out on the world around us, and then go on about our day.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22

Usually, when on a mission; cheerful I am not. I want to get in and get out. Get my stamps, or whatever, and go on about my business. I certainly don’t have time to joke about toilet paper.

But these are different times. And checking out really isn’t what God is asking us to do. He doesn’t want us to keep moving along as if others don’t exist, when they are either standing in front of us, or living around us.

He doesn’t want us to fight over toilet paper; though it makes for great grocery store line humor. Or scurrying into the Starbucks to-go station to get your latte, without even a glance at the one who fixed it.

We have forgotten the value of people and presence for far too long. Sure-being cautious is wise. I don’t recommend finding reasons to stand in grocery store lines, just to strike up conversations, and spread cheer with strangers.

I do recommend taking the time to stop, and to simply be present with someone.

Whether it is the family you are stuck in the house with. The pharmacist filling your script on the end of the phone. Or FaceTime with a far-flung friend. These are the times to make time for conversations that move from grocery lines to phone lines.

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