Thursday, June 11, 2015

Not in the News

Every time I read “The Week,” I wonder if staying informed is really so important.  We dropped our subscription to the Connecticut Post and stopped watching the news years ago.  So far, I can handle The Courier, but even local news has been discouraging lately.  Still, it’s the bigger picture that is hard to face, the atrocities by ISIS, the oppression of women, and racial and ethnic hatreds unleashed.   As I drove to Super Stop and Shop on Saturday morning, I wondered, what is it with humans?  What is our problem?

I swung into the parking lot, pulled into a space, picked up a cart that had been left in the adjacent spot, and pushed it to the entrance.  Amidst the flats of annuals and hanging baskets of pink petunias stood an attractive young woman, slender, African-American, bright-eyed, and animated.  As I approached, she tore a sheet off the pad in her hand, gestured to a white truck in the parking lot, and said, “We’re trying to stuff that truck with food for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission (BRM).  Would you be willing to contribute?”

Years ago, Casey and I volunteered at the Mission’s mobile soup kitchen, handing out food and winter coats, and our friends, the Tresslers, often collect donations for the organization during their annual Christmas concerts.  So I was familiar with the Mission’s work and pleased to support it in a practical and easy way.

My own grocery list was short, so it was the perfect time to fill the cart for BRM.  I scanned the shelves, selecting dry cereal, peanut butter, and a multitude of cans – canned beans, tuna, and soup - as requested.

I was far from alone in the canned food aisle.  Almost every person I passed held the BRM list: a grizzled old man, stooped and slow moving; a heavy-set matron with a beaming smile; a young couple, their heads close together, perusing the list and reaching for some beans.  Good-hearted souls shopping on Saturday, given a chance to help, and happily doing so.

When I returned to the young woman outside the store, I felt buoyant with light as I added my bags to a cart brimming with others’ donations.  “Do you have any idea how many people are shopping for you?” I asked.  Grinning, she nodded, and I told her about my sad drive over.  I didn’t want to get all religious on her, but I had to tell her what felt so fully to be true.  “This – you, the Mission, all of those generous shoppers – are like an answer to my question.  An answer to my prayer.”  We didn’t hug each other, but that hug was alive in the air between us.

Robert Fulghum wrote in one of his essays that what makes the news, by definition, is the exception, and so it is with the media barrage of horrors.  People doing good is not news… and I have to remember that.  



tootsielala55 said...

Weep, you made me weep. You are so good, so dear. Of COURSE the news is too much to bear for someone as tender as you. And really, with folks like me who are addicted to the news, what is served by your pain in watching. Good friends can gently tell you the news you must know and the rest, well, tomorrow there will be a new crisis to take today's crisis place.

This piece is different. It did touch my soul, as all your pieces do. But somehow this time it taught me or reminded me, people can be good. Give them the chance to do good and many many will.

What a gift you gave us all. What a gift you are. What a gift your writing talent us all.

Anonymous said...

Lea --
I read this on my phone earlier to day and I too weeped and second Tootsie's insight - about your sweet tenderness and the gift of your writing. Thank you! A lovely piece.

Lea said...

Such dear words! Thank you! Shows how much we all need that reminder when things seem so grim! said...

Lea, a beautiful story, not only of your generosity but the other shoppers who were shopping to help provide food for the Mission. It is so true, when people take the time out of their frenzied routine to do something kind and generous for others, they make the world a better place…And that does need to happen for within our world there is a lot of ugliness, but there is also beauty in people like you and others who do things for others! Thanks for writing about such a lovely, buoyant experience!
xoxo annie

Musings. Rants & Scribbles said...

Oh Lea,

Isn't it nice to feel we're doing something for others in this tough world? I also love those grocery store hunger drives.

You will always be such a sweet, caring person. The world could use more of you. Lovely post as usual.

Joanie said...

So easy to see every detail of this event as it unfolded, Lea. Your generosity of spirit is why you so frequently recognize ways you can help impact the greater good. Many might have said, "I only have a few things to pick up, I'm in and out." You see the same circumstances and embrace the ease of giving it presents. Love that about you. Love you. xo

Gail said...

Beautiful post. I ditto all previous remarks ๐Ÿ˜˜