Sunday nights are probably not the best time for me to go grocery shopping. My brain is usually a bit fried. But my husband had to go into the office and the kids needed something for their lunchboxes, so…I went.
I got all my groceries and they were just about all bagged up when I went to reach for my purse. Which was not dutifully attached to my body as I had expected. Pink in the cheeks and apologizing profusely, I went to the car to see if it was there. Of course not. I returned to the scene of the “almost crime” and apologized again that I would have to run home to get money and could they possibly pause my sale and set aside my cart. All of which was mortifying enough, but the truth is there was the kindest couple in line behind me. You see just behind my loaded to the brim cart for a family of four was a lovely older couple with their tiny cart of just a couple of items. The wife had come up and, in a thick Eastern European accent, asked if it was okay if she helped me unload my cart onto the conveyor belt. (this was before I was found out to be wallet-less). I said OK, but REALLY you don’t have to. (what would my mother say letting an 80 year old woman unload my groceries?!?) But she reached in and helped anyway and when I thanked her profusely, she said, motioning with her hands, “one hand takes care of the other.” Even as I bumbled my way through not paying, she was kind and gentle and had an understanding look on her face. One hand takes care of the other. Her kindness mitigated my frazzle and made such an impression on me. It takes just the smallest gesture to make a difference, doesn’t it? We get all wrapped up in grand gestures sometimes and we worry about what generosity truly is…when in any given moment, it all boils down to “one hand takes care of the other.”
So think about the next time you are in the grocery line or some other way you might offer up some little assistance that might just make a difference for someone else. There is power in that, I think, and as I walked away that night, I thought there was certainly a special place in heaven for little old ladies who teach us how “one hand takes care of the other.”
Rev. Stacy Emerson is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in West Hartford, CT and the Stewardship Consultant for ABCUSA. She is also the Coordinator for The Generosity Project which is about helping congregations deepen their understanding of stewardship as a call to generosity as disciples of Jesus; re-framing the stewardship conversation; and cultivating generosity in pastors, lay people, and congregations.