Thankful Notes: About Rain & Going To The Grocery Store

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Thankful Notes

Woke up early to bright pink skies and remembered the phrase, “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight—red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.”

Jesus even said something like this in Luke 12.54-55 (although I’m not sure it rhymed).

But I’d already looked at the forecast on my iPhone and had seen the predicted rain. The ground was just a little wet—evidence of a light rain before I got up. To be honest, I love a summer rain. It means I don’t have to water everything and sometimes, if I’m lucky, there might even be some thunder and lightning (I’m still waiting, still hopeful).

First things first… Nespresso machine on, two shots in the small black MiiR tumbler and a splash of half and half. Maybe another two shots and a splash later. I sat outside on the deck, and didn’t even care that the chair had a few puddles of rain on it.

Camper and I left for work, this happy routine of ours in the Mini Cooper. It’s always about 15 minutes on the road listening to NPR together.

One of my favorite things is getting to work before everyone else. I love that time in a quiet office—to read, settle myself, reflect, think, and figure out what all needs to be done before the noise begins competing for my attention.

I got an apologetic e-mail saying the sermon recording didn’t work on Sunday. While I was disappointed—because it was one of those sermons I really felt and believe in was considering doing that thing I sometimes do on social media: “I don’t often ask people to listen to my sermon podcast, but today I’m suggesting you consider…”— in the back of my head, something I’d read the day before on Twitter was echoing:

“Some of you Pastors like your own sermons way too much. You push and promote them like they’re the latest Lady Gaga single.”

So, yeah, here’s to being thankful for technical difficulties.

Later in the afternoon I put my hands in dirt, potting a couple of plants that needed new soil and some attention. Having a white collar job all these years, I suppose I pride myself in having clean hands and fingernails consistently. But today it felt good having those temporary dark spots under my nails as evidence of this miniscule amount of manual labor.

The sound of the rain on the roof of our office building felt like a happy companion—and it made me smile and hope for thunder, but still I wait.

I brought home a printed-out recipe for Icelandic Happy Marriage Cake (Hjónabandssaela) – which is something we had while vacationing in Iceland this summer. It has rhubarb in it and I’m a big fan of rhubarb and desserts and Iceland, so of course I’m bringing the recipe home. I’d noticed someone recently put rhubarb in our refrigerator, so I wanted to give that someone a not-so-subtle hint to get to work on it.

Shari looked over the recipe and smiled. She said she’d be happy to make it but we don’t have any brown sugar right now, or whipped cream or ice cream (which, in our house, is always necessary with sweet baked good).

After dinner (a cobb salad with all the things, made by me), Shari went upstairs for a nap. I still had the Iceland rhubarb happy marriage cake hjónabandssaela-thing on my mind, so I went to the store for brown sugar and vanilla ice cream (French vanilla, Tillamook). Normally, I go through the self-checkout line—especially when I only have a couple of items, but all of them were occupied and I spotted a cashier with only one guy in her line, and it looked like all his items had already passed through the scanner. I hustled over there and stuck my basket on the belt.

The whole act of moving from self-checkout to the cashier quickly had me in a fast-paced state of mind and I felt like I could win some race.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), neither the cashier nor the man was in a hurry. Even though all his items were already scanned, the cashier was ever-so-slowly and carefully putting his groceries in bags. At one point she stopped and asked the man if he thought the bag would be too heavy. I was about to lose my mind.

She seemed to be babying him, and when he took the last big paper grocery bag into his shopping cart, she put her hand on his arm and said, “You take it easy, OK my love?”

The man said something, but I couldn’t hear him (he seemed a little out of breath). And as he shuffled away from the checkstand, she watched him go, without even looking at my basket. Finally, and after what seemed like an eternity in grocery store time, she looked at me and smiled, “He has Parkinson’s. Poor guy. There isn’t a cure for that, is there?”

I stumbled over my words, “Uh, I don’t think so…” and suddenly, I was no longer in a hurry. Another feeling washed over me—not shame or guilt, but that sudden realization of being in the presence of something holy and good.

I had been an eyewitness to one human blessing another, and it made me glad.

There still hasn’t been any thunder, and I’m starting to think there won’t be any, but Shari is in the kitchen with rhubarb cooking and now I’m banking on happy marriage cake (along with an episode of The Durrells in Corfu, season 3). This is a good day.


I am a husband, father, pastor, leader & reader. I love God, love people & love life.

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