Words from a stranger…

valentine heart shape made by dollars isolated on whiteNot too long ago, I was running into our local grocery store with my four cherubs and attempting to corral them into and around a grocery cart just inside of the front door.

Anyone with multiple children knows that this moment can be a negotiation nightmare as you figure out who is riding in the seat, who is riding in the cart, who is holding onto the back, and who has the indignity of actually walking alongside the cart.

While we were in the throws of negotiation, an older woman came right up to us with her cart.  I assumed she was simply putting her cart back in the row, but then she leaned towards me ever so slightly, and whispered something that made such a big impact on me.

“You’re rich.”

That’s it. A one second utterance. No further explanation.  No greeting.  It happened so fast and I was so busy in the moment, I don’t even know if she smiled or where she went afterwards.

I was so caught off guard.  What did she say? What did she mean? Who says that?

As we walked through the grocery store that day, trying the best we can to actually get groceries into the cart that is already teeming with children; my mind was filled with her comment.

I am rich.

How so?  What did she see?  Was it my fancy Target purse exploding on my shoulder with water bottles, diapers, wipes, snack pouches, and anything else I may need for this shopping adventure?  What earrings was I wearing?  Pearls.  Did that belie my financial worth?   In almost every way, I blended into the landscape of our middle class, suburban grocery store.

Then I realized … she saw something else.  She saw them.

She saw the round, beautiful faces that have been kissed a thousand times over.  She saw the little heads of hair that have been scrubbed clean, braided, twisted, smoothed down, and prayed over.  She saw the exuberant joy that instinctively runs through the veins of children; trying to be contained to their mother’s expectations of proper behavior in public yet bubbling over in little, predictable ways; jumping up and down, dancing, twirling, tangles of arms and legs as we tried to negotiate who was actually going to be in the cart versus riding on the outside, dangling into the way of passing grocery carts.

She saw joy.  She saw life.  She saw sweetness.  She saw love.  She saw my life in a 2 second nutshell.

And what she said in return, was powerful.

So powerful that today, even as I write this years later; her perspective makes my eyes brim with tears.

She got it.  She knows.

Her words were a gift.  A sacred gift.  For they invigorated my soul out of my daily grind and threw me into a day of sweet contemplation.   They shaped my perspective that day and many days since.

I am rich.  We are rich.  Those that are surrounded by ones we love, are rich.  Rich in what matters.

How wonderful that this sweet stranger chose to utter these little words to me.   How quickly her passing comment, sprang from her mind to my soul.

Words are powerful.  They carry weight.  Precious weight.  They pulled on my soul that day in a beautiful way.

May we never withhold “soul-filling” words from others.  You never know whose world you may forever affect. 🙂