a miracle at the market

It is the season of miracles it is said.

Is there truth in it? I’m coming to believe that there is.

A small miracle took place yesterday in the pet food aisle at Fred Meyer’s market.

In the past three seasons of joblessness, hardship and subsisting below the poverty line, each Christmas I’ve made sure that those more impoverished and in need than I receive something under the tree.

Last year I had 20 dollars to help the needy. I went to the Salvation Army’s Giving Tree at the mall. My heart was broken by the tablecloth of tags for items desired or needed from babies to seniors in the homes.

Last year I focused on the elderly. I noticed how many of them requested a sweater.

Instead of helping just one with $20, I wanted to help as many as I could. So I went to the Goodwill, where clothing items can be had for 99 cents on color tag days.

For about two hours, I joyfully and tirelessly picked through the racks, sweater by sweater, going over each with a fine-tooth comb for the slightest sign of wear, paying close attention to the cuffs and necks and collars, stains, loose threads or funky smells. I found one sweater that still had its original tags — $35 retail! And I paid $1! Only the sweaters in pristine condition made the cut.

I left with approximately 17 sweaters, including two large ones for men, on $20. At home, I ironed and folded each very nicely, carefully bagged them and delivered them to the Giving Tree.

This year is about the children.

And as ever the animals.

At the Goodwill, the bins overflow with stuffed animals. Any toy regardless of size and unless otherwise marked is $1.29. Again, I sifted with great loving care to select the toys that were brand-new or so pristine as to be so. The amount I can afford again is $20.

For around 7 dollars, I was able to provide six children with a toy from Santa.

These endeavors are of such heavenly joy, rich with spiritual fulfillment meaning; sometimes too they’re wrenching of the heart for I can do so little in the sea of need.

The animals are never forgotten.

After the toys and $9 for a 20-pound bag of catfood from Costco, I had approximately $4 left for a gift for the dogs.

I don’t want to give them cheap crap. Every dollar, no, dime is spent only after close examination of an item and contemplation of its true value.

Enter the woman in the market aisle.

After 20 minutes surveying the dog foods, I asked her who appeared, a woman petite and thin, about the products. We got to talking. Instantly I recognized a kindred spirit, a woman of kindness with a good heart and giving spirit.

I told her the Christmas story about the sweaters last year and the toys for the tots this year and that I’ve been without a job for more than two years and that I have $20 to help the needy and my striving to help as many humans and animals as I can.

An outsider might’ve seen sparks flying for we were like sisters crossing paths! We talked and talked. After agreeing that Safeway’s pet food prices are cheaper than Fred Meyer’s, we each decided to take our dollars there.

We parted with fervent wishes for a Merry Christmas.

Soon after we crossed paths again over by the bulk nuts. She approached me with face glowing.

“You so inspired me,” she said. “Here, go get yourself something.” In her hand she extended to me a $20 bill.

“I can’t,” I said, refusing her offer, meaning I can’t get something for myself.

“Then,” she insisted, “use it to do what you do.” Meaning to help the animals, the children, others.

“That,” I said,“I can do.”

She was paying it forward, she said.

That I can do too, I assured her.

My heart swelled with gratitude for her gift and the light in her face that bespoke her inspiration from my own story of poverty and generosity.

I thanked her and we parted again.

There are personal teachings and a parable for me that are not for exposure on a blog.

The story, however, the heart of the story is for all.

Miracles do happen, I’m coming to believe. They occur when goodness collides with goodness. And they can happen anywhere and at any time, including at the pet food aisle at the market.


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Doug
    Dec 25, 2010 @ 02:54:29

    Aw shucks, now I’m all damp and misty… Merry Christmas to you. Thanks for the wonderful story.


  2. Aussie Emjay
    Dec 25, 2010 @ 15:27:11

    A lovely post. I hope you had a pleasant day today.


  3. longeyesamurai
    Dec 26, 2010 @ 07:21:56

    Hear, hear
    Nice to see the Christmas spirit is alive and well.

    Hope joy and happiness finds your way…


  4. Flamingo Dancer
    Dec 26, 2010 @ 09:54:56

    What a wonderful, wonderful story. Thank you for sharing – I need a tissue now…

    Merry Christmas and the happiest of new years to you…best wishes always.


    • allycatadventures
      Dec 26, 2010 @ 16:12:13

      @FD – {hands over aloe tissue} Sharing such stories is paying it forward and that requires readers such as yourself so thanks for being present for it. Merry sunny Christmas to you!


  5. Country Cinderella
    Dec 26, 2010 @ 23:02:01

    This is a great story. I am so glad you got to meet such a wonderful person.


  6. mkirkd
    Jan 01, 2011 @ 08:52:55

    What a beautiful inspiring story! this is the true spirit of Christmas!


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