Whole Foods Market just opened in Savannah, right around the time we moved here last summer.
Last night I dreamed I was shopping in some dream-time Whole Foods. In my dream the store was a big glass box, surrounded by a huge parking lot (not all that different from our day-time WFM.) Inside I was shopping, along with other people like me, for baked brie and satsumas, avocadoes, pork loin, Prosecco and chocolate truffles.
Outside, on the other side of the four walls of glass (dream WFM), indigent people were camping in the parking lot. They were not trying to get in. They were just there. One of them lay sick on the blacktop. Others were huddled amidst the Christmas tree display under the eaves. These were people on the edge of subsistence. No baked brie for them. Shopping in my dream I felt ill, knowing they were out there, seeing them out there. But I continued to shop. I checked out, with the bright-faced, Christmas-bedecked cashier (likely a graduate from the local elite art school). Walked blindly past the parking lot people to my fancy little car.
Well. This morning I happened to need a few things from Whole Foods shortly after they opened at 8am. Holiday madness in full swing, the store was pretty busy, even that early. When it came time to check out, only one register was open, plus the Express lane. In the Regular lane was a lady with a towering shopping cart, so I opted for the Express (I think I had less than 15 items). Only one person was in front of me: quick.
As I stood there, a gentleman joined the line behind me, tailed by some seemingly managerial Whole Foods employee. The man was older, black, rather disheveled. Not the usual clientele. The manager was speaking rapidly to the man (I couldn’t make out what he was saying), then I heard the older customer loudly proclaim, “I GOT money to pay!” The man had assembled a modest plate from the hot-food breakfast buffet—his sole purchase–some scrambled eggs, a biscuit, some potatoes . . .
The manager bustled away (presumably in search of higher authority), and it was just me and breakfast man in line.
When my turn came, the checker began scanning my items: spinach-artichoke dip, dark chocolate, organic toothpaste, Roquefort cheese, hydroponic lettuce . . .
After twenty seconds or so of this, I turned to the man behind me and asked, “Can I buy your breakfast?”
Clutching his five-dollar bill, he gaped at me with surprisingly pale blue (cataracted?) eyes: “You would do that for me?”
Of course. Done. A no-brainer. (The cost of his breakfast was $3.47.)
He was effusive: “Merry Christmas!” “God is good!” “I love you!” “Have a blessed day!”
I do not recount this story just to show y’all what a great good person I am. I know we all find and act on these little opportunities often.
It just was a pretty interesting confluence—what with my dream the very night before, with Savannah’s many different worlds bumping up against each other, with Christmas . . .
Once again I am struck by the simple ends my spirit seeks—as I have said here before, mostly I just want to be kind—and, in contrast, the elaborate trappings of a 21-st century “spiritual path”: expensive outfits, impressive gymnastics, exotic retreats, starvation diets that cost hundreds of dollars . . .
Just be kind. That was the take-home today. When faced with a choice to be kind or be blind, be kind.
Now is the time. Christmas time, all the time. The world is in darkness.
Be the light.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.