A little BIG Thing

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers (The Epistle to the Hebrews 13.1-2a)

Yesterday and another hot, humid South Carolina afternoon. My cart half-filled, I stood, more or less (more, I confess, less) patiently in line at the market.

Before me, a young black man. A bottle of water in hand. His pants slung low. His tank top hanging loosely from his narrow shoulders.

Before him, an older, portly white man. His suspendered trousers high on his waist. His cart, a psalmic “cup running over” with groceries.

Nearing check-out, the older gentleman turned. Up-and-down, he looked at the young man.

“My dear sir,” his Southern drawl molasses-thick, “you only have one item. You go ahead of me.”

I couldn’t see the young man’s face, but I heard his voice, his tone registering surprise, “Thanks. Appreciate it.”

America’s tenaciously long-lived racial divide wasn’t healed. Nevertheless, spontaneously, I smiled. This little act in the giving and in the receiving, in a big way, fortified my hope that – in a world and time of increasing anxiety and anger, particularly in the public square and directed at “the other” – civility lives.

© 2022 PRA

#civility #racialdivide

5 thoughts on “A little BIG Thing

  1. Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to bring tears to my eyes these days; this did.

    Thank you, Paul, for sharing this little moment, this small grace. I appreciate knowing about it so much.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. My dear Karen, as I continue to reflect on this — seemingly — ever so small and brief encounter in an ever-swirlingly fast-paced world of human engagements and disengagements, one thought hath arisen and continues to come ’round-and-’round back to me…

      Disappointment (for manifold reasons, many tracing back to my formative years [which, instantly, reminds me that the one person from whom I cannot run is me, that is, my history]) is one of the most difficult emotions for me to resolve (at times, survive). Therefore, for much of my life, I, to the extent that I was able to discern future possibilities, have sought to avoid circumstances which or people whom I believed might cause me disappointment. Thus, among many things, trust was not an openness, a vulnerability I easily gave to anyone. O’er the course of time and my life, I also learned that I had not always been trustworthy and that I was most capable and willing to be insincere. Somehow, through a long, circuitous route (all the proverbial twists and turns of which I know not), I came to a place where sincerity, honesty, integrity are life’s bywords, even if and when I have been met, via person and circumstance, the opposites…

      This is a long way around saying that I have come to strive to trust — others, circumstances, life — whilst seeking also to be prudent (all that appears is not as it appears). And, in trusting, I also have learned to hope — to believe in possibilities, to hold fast to my dreams, even and especially in the face of all to the contrary. This posture, thus, allows me to see what, long afore, given my previous way of being, I could not have seen. Thus, this grocery store moment on a hot, humid South Carolina day, made my day. And I am happy it brought some joy to you.

      Love you,


  2. I HAVE DONE THE SAME FOR anyone with few groceries.
    Glad to hear it’s catching. Pat Latin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen, my dear Pat, and bless you.



  3. Hi All!!

    I LOVE this post sooooo much!! It made me smile!! I’ve seen several of these situations over the last couple of months and I wished each time I could have recorded it to play it on the days of mass shootings to remind myself that there IS still kindness in this world!!

    Thanks for sharing!!!!



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