Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Little Ministry (#837,298)

It was a hot morning at Farmers Market, and energy was visibly flagging among both customers and vendors near the end of the morning. A mother and her two young daughters stopped by for some kale...pretty much all I had left by the end. As they strolled out of the shady booth into the blazing sun, the mom leaned down to hear a question from one of the girls. They stopped and turned back.

A question about another vendor? Directions to the port-a-potty? A lost stuffed animal? So often returning customers are hoping I'm the Information Booth...and I'm happy to oblige. The commercial theory is that is customers are happy and comfortable, they will stay at market longer and buy more stuff...that's good for all of us at the market. And chances are they will return to the vendor who went the extra mile to give good service AFTER they made their purchase.

It's also part of my spiritual practice: To take the time to treat each person with kindness and respect, whether there's something in it for me or not. Doubly so, for those who might tend to be less respected by others: Children, the elderly, frail, differently abled, foreign, another color, dressed oddly.

This time was different. "She has a question she's been wanting to ask you" the mother said as they approached the table I stood behind. She wanted to make sure I paid attention to her daughter, who was probably in the 4 to 6 range. It must be something important. I silently blessed the mother for taking the time to come back on such a hot day, and for making sure I gave her daughter the attention she deserved.

The little girl looked up at her mom, questioningly. Mom nodded. "Go ahead, honey. Ask your question."

Reassured, the girl looked at me. "Why do you wear that on your head?" she asked, full of sincere curiosity, excited that her desire to know was being honored by both her mother and me.

I smiled in sudden understanding. Probably it isn't just the child who is curious, but also the mother...hence the effort extended to come back and ask.

"I wear the prayer covering because there's a place in the Bible where it says that women should cover their heads when they pray. And I know I need to pray all the time. So I wear this to help me remember to pray a lot."

That was all that needed to be said in that moment. It was a good answer. The child understood, and was satisfied. So did the mother. We all smiled.

As they turned and walked away, tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes. What a gift it is to answer a child's honest question with an honest answer that is one they can grow with for a lifetime, no matter where life takes them, no matter what their beliefs for practices.

Remember to pray a lot.

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