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Thrift Store Shopping

Hot and a dry July. Hay farmers have concern about the parched land. Gardens are drying up, flowers are browning, hummingbirds are struggling to find natural sweetness. Some of us bow heads and ask for rain.

I want to go somewhere like a galaxy far, far away where it is cool, where temperatures hover at 75 degrees.

So I take off in my car and go thrift store shopping.

I enter shops and cruise the aisles. I’m open to whatever I see at a magnificently low price. I spend an entire morning going in and out of shops, buying something fun from every shop: a sign, magnets, a pie plate, a piece of luggage, a chenille bedspread.

Maybe this is my way of running away.

The clerks and managers of each shop are caring and helpful, full of kindness. Willing to go the extra mile to take care of me.

No wonder I go thrift store shopping. I think of nothing but what is before me. Every aisle is filled with surprises. I wonder if that’s how it feels on a quest for the holy grail.

I don’t care if I eat or not. Too hot to eat.

The heat is surely getting to me. And I still need to stop at a grocery store.

It is when I leave the grocery store that I have a realization. Actually, I am on my way to the car when it dawns on me: the aisles here are not full of surprises, and the clerks are not laughing. In fact, the person who waited on me did not give me eye contact. She just did her job.

In the grocery store I was different, too. I was somewhat numb and figuring menus in my head. Problem-solving. Maybe even a little catatonic. (I am not proud of this.) The sack girl standing beside the cashier was interesting and gave me her eyes and smile.

Strangely, I could see God and stories in the thrift shops. I did not look for God and stories in the grocery store. He was in both places, of course, but I did not look for Him. Therefore, I did not see Him.

I forget how badly I need to see His glory. I forget to look for Him.

I look at a woman in the parking lot, standing at the back of her car, bent over. This is what I need to do: pay attention and be grateful for just seeing her. She is not in need of help.

When she pushes her cart my way, I nod and smile. She responds with, “Sure is hot, isn’t it?”

I say, “Yes. It is hot.”

Any response from her or from me is paying tribute to God. After all, He created all of us in His image, and He is holy.

He is the face of all faces: the face of the frowning man, the face of the cashier, the face of the baby.

I find it where I look for it, where I am focused. It takes a little more energy to be focused, and I need to put out that extra oomph, wherever I am, whatever the heat index.

Another life lesson for me.


Pat Durmon

P.S. I am so grateful to those of you who click the Share button. Thank you, thank you for sharing my work with others.

Photo of Humane Society Thrift Shop sign in Mountain Home, Arkansas, taken by Pat Durmon in July 2018.

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