Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Forgotten Spinach

Last week I discussed relationships. But what if you don’t get to see the people you are closest to every day? What if you are too stressed and pulled in every direction to enjoy these relationships? What then does life have to offer? I think the answer lies in the grocery store.

Some days I go in to Albert Heijn and everything is so exciting, a new culinary discovery waiting to happen. I am eager to try that new dish I have been wanting to test. I can practically taste the sweet, juicy pears and hear the crunch of the buttery cashews as I meander through the aisles. I derive great pleasure from day-dreaming about the farmers in the field, toiling away at producing life-nourishing aliments. That simple act of farming, or rather, the complicated act if you think about all that goes into creating a life-form, is so positive. It creates life, it sustains life, it is connected to Mother Nature at her finest.

Moreover, the grocery store connects us to our fellow humans. It is impossible to enter into an empty supermarket; everyone has to eat. And on that very basic but deeply rooted level, we are all the same. We are in this store together, this life together. We may have different items on our shopping lists, but our needs are the same. At the humanness, at the goodness of the earth, at that simplicity how can I not help but smile?

Other days, though, the glory of the groceries hides behind a sepia filter, faded. Something to ignore. These days are like having to run and get the spinach forgotten in an earlier shopping endeavor. Go in, go out. Try to avoid the cold of the refrigerators everywhere. The luxury of marvel traded in for the necessity of focus. Go in, go out. No extras, just the greens.

Photo from:
While some days may equate to the forgotten spinach trips, they needn’t be. There is always something to be admired. Even though the cold of the refrigerators grips the back of your neck, have reverence for the wonder of electricity, the heart of temperature control. More so, be thankful for the privilege of keeping milk and vegetables in cold environments. Smile that they are not spoiled. Offer up praise for the many choices available. And while sometimes there might be a clean-up in aisle 2, the rest of the store still has a plethora of untainted joys to offer. C’est la vie.

It's the small things that make life great. My grocery store this week is stocked as follows:

Aisle 1: Having the sweet toddler I was babysitting fall asleep in my arms as I read her a bedtime story.
Aisle 2: Coffee with a friend serendipitously extended into lunch. Those stolen bits of time are the sweetest.
Aisle 3: Leading the 8 and 9-year-old Sunday School class in a few songs for the retirement home. The residents were so happy to have the children visit them.
Aisle 4: The forgotten spinach run. I may have been querulous about having to bike in the wind to get it, but it made me realize the necessity of keeping an eye open for the goodness surrounding me. 
Everything can be a learning experience.

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