Jul. 10, 2021

HAVE YOU "GIVEN ANY AWAY" RECENTLY?

I EXPERIENCED THIS REMARKABLE  "SHOW AND TELL" ALMOST FIVE YEARS AGO AND--IT IS MEMORABLE.  IT RESULTED IN A LASTING "CHANGE" TO MY HEART.  NEVER DOUBT THE "MESSAGE" WHEN IT IS DELIVERED BY  THE ORIGINATOR OF LIFE--  ITSELF:

"I am only one person yet smart enough to know that--based on my skin color--- force and violence won't change how blacks perceive me.  But after today, I realize there is something inside each of us that is  so powerful, it can invoke change--one attitude at a time.

It happened today, during my morning exercise, with Cubby,  at the river. If you know me, you know I always listen to the small voice inside me. It doesn’t happen often but today----the  "small" voice spoke LOUD and ----VERY CLEAR:

Like a baby, milk sustains me; I had no milk to begin this early Sunday  morning so it was a "must" that as soon as we finished our walk, Cubby and I would drive directly to the grocery store. The voice inside me laid out my new mission and….it was time to follow instructions.

Two women, both black, were leaving the store as I entered.  Neither was smiling but I smiled and said “Good morning, my friends.” They looked shocked but both quickly responded “Good Morning.”  Working my way back to the milk section, I encountered several store workers---also black---and greeted them with smiles and kind words….and it felt natural.  This time I said “Please enjoy your day, my friends, and know how much God appreciates your efforts on behalf of customers like me.” They flashed big smiles and seemed so happy when they, too, wished me a happy day.

 And, so it went--- from the back of the store to the front-- as I sensed this calming spirit in my body, and-- regardless of the looks of those walking toward me or standing in my path---I projected a message of friendliness, greeting strangers with a natural sense of caring ….and love.  Whatever had taken control of my mind and body consumed me completely and---my fifteen minute journey to purchase a gallon of milk felt like a walk of faith.

Leaving the store, walking toward my car, a new and fancy car pulled up beside me. The driver asked if the black car with the big dog inside was mine.  The car's driver, a nicely dressed black man, polite but unsmiling, asked if it was safe to park beside my car. He said he was afraid of big dogs and the one in my car scared him to death!!!!  I assured him that Big Dog, Cubby, was less to be feared than most people but, I’d stand next to the car to secure Cubby, while he parked.

When the man got out of his car, he must have been at least 6ft 2inches and probably weighed about 200 pounds yet, he really seemed afraid. I walked him to the front of my car, explaining how I’d found Cubby five years earlier, close to death, and desperately in need of love and attention.  The man looked shocked when I mentioned finding Cubby on the old Pine Bluff highway near a small community called Woodson.  It seems the man had been born in Woodson and still lived there with his grandmother.  Then he did something unexpected.  He asked if I would help him pet Cubby….maybe help him lose some of his fear of dogs.  Cubby was an eager participant and, as always, accepted the attention with great happiness. The gentleman couldn’t stop smiling; his face glowed with pride as if he’d conquered a major challenge.

Then, I did something unexpected.  I asked the man to share a hug…right there in Kroger’s parking lot. A young black man and an older white woman experienced a brief moment of shared kindness. No one is ever too young, too old, or to "different" to experience love."

As the lyricist Oscar Hammerstein wrote with such meaning:  “Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; Love isn’t Love.... ‘til you give it away.”

Sally Miller