Grocery Shopping Reflections

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It came a bit late in my life but last month I promised my wife that I would do my share of the grocery shopping.

The experience was a bit unnerving.

This big super market became a different place when I entered it with a long shopping list in my hand, items I must find, check out, and then bring home. I stood there for a while – trying to orientate myself. Where to start? I spotted an employee. “Could you tell where I can find yogurt?” I asked him. He smiled obligingly. His directions were complicated but I did reach the many cases all containing yogurt. There were many shapes, kinds, and sizes. Without much conviction, I made a choice.

On to the next item. I studied the list. I realized that finding the right department is one thing, but then to make a selection from the dozens of possibilities…

I realized that I must have a plan. Actually, the finest research guide I found was my wife. She explained that vegetables and fruit are in one area, and then there is the area of dairy products, and then one of baked good, bread and buns. And several others. They all have their own location, you just move from the one to the other. I learned later that edible products are arranged along the outer walls of the store. The rationale of that eludes me now. Most of it is quite elementary. And I can proudly report that I have become adept at applying the list to the plan and come home with most of the items on the list.

I still wander a bit–well a lot–but I now deduct those miles from my weekly jogging schedule.

I have found other important implications from my new shopping carrier.

I have observed people whose lives are obviously not easy. They looked sad, tired, and pre-occupied, their shoulders bowed under burdens.

I have watched cashiers and wondered how they can do it, hour after hour, standing on their feet, doing their mentally demanding tasks.

I have thought of the store officials who must somehow keep the store stocked with the right products, day after day, acre after acre.

I have seen shoppers whose finances were obviously limited, their faces showing worry.

I have thought of the refugee mother on the news hour, trying to cross the border, tagging little children along…so much distress and famine in the Third World.

And I look around and see the millions of items. I thought, perhaps, our abundance is embarrassing.

I remembered the years when, as a boy in the old country during World War Two, the struggle for food kept us awake.

And every once in a while I spot a fellow church members...and my heart rejoices. We greet each other. The fellowship of the saints is here!

Give us this day our daily bread…

Yes, I will go shopping again. I will look carefully. And see a lot. And will not count the minutes…

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Your promise to your wife would be like my promise to our Pastor to do next week's sermon!  You probably thought for years that your wife's shopping was just fun. NO, it is hard work and probably double so on a Pastor's salary. In the end she turned out to be the guide you needed. You are not alone in that.