In junior high, I had an assignment to interview someone who had lived through America’s Great Depression.
I chose my grandma. She was not known for opening up and sharing her feelings and memories about very hard things. She had come over to my parent’s house for a visit and I approached her with my notepad and pen and asked her to share her experience. At first, she declined my request. But about an hour later, she sat next to me on the couch and said:
“I don’t like talking about these things, but people should know. They should know about them, so I will tell you”
She told me the Depression hit when she was a young girl. Her father left to find work and never returned home, leaving her mother to care for my grandma and her sister and brothers. She told me how her brothers had to go find work while she and her sister and mother worked to figure out how to provide for and feed the family.
A small smile came to her face as she told me about the exciting Christmas present that had arrived at their door one cold December night. She told me a pair of nuns from the local parish were going around the neighborhood with a basket of oranges and handing them out to the families.
I loved that story. Just thinking about something so ordinary to me as an orange being such a gift to my grandma as a young girl.
I thought of this story yesterday as I was working a personal shopping order at our local grocery story. I’ve been doing it to make money for my family, but also, to provide a need for people who are not able to leave their home and shop for themselves. People like my grandma who would be in that category if she didn’t embark for Heaven last year.
Anyway, I strolled through the store with my client’s list. Continually communicating back and forth about what was out of stock and what could I get for them instead. One of the items my client had ordered was almond milk. We drink almond milk in our house too and we were running low. When I had arrived at the dairy aisle I was met with empty shelves. I wasn’t surprised. I’d been in all the stores for shopping orders all week.
But then, there it was. One gallon of almond milk was left. I reached for it, and for a moment, I thought, “What if I just said it was out of stock so I could get it for my family…” I didn’t like the thought. It was unwelcome, but it happened, I’m sure we’ve all had thoughts that go against our morals, especially in times of uncertainty and lack like right now. I stood in that aisle holding the gallon, and I thought of my grandma’s story. It was as if I were holding an orange. Something so ordinary to me, but precious to someone else.
I thought about the nuns who showed up to my grandma’s door with the basket of oranges that they could have kept for themselves to keep at the parish, after all, they had to eat too. But they didn’t keep it. They shared it. They shared their abundance to meet other families’ lack.
If you were wondering, I didn’t keep the milk. I wasn’t there for myself, I was there because someone else couldn’t be there. I didn’t know who was on the other end of the shopping list, but I knew that my job was to fulfill my client’s order.
We may see empty shelves and feel an overwhelming sense of lack and panic. But I’ve lived long enough to know that God has His ways to fulfill our list of needs and all He’s called us to do our best to try to fulfill the list of needs for others.
Share the orange, friends. Share the orange.