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prayerhandsFor those who are new to my writing, one of the things I inherited from my mother was the ability to sniff out a sale. But I took that intuition and turned it into a science to the point that I know when things are going to be on sale almost down to the season, month, and week. I have always called my friends and shopped for them while I was out- especially food for my single moms. The cashiers pretty much know me now. They always threaten to follow me home because they see what I am buying. Because I usually shop very late evenings, sometimes I even bring meals to the cashiers or stock workers if they were particularly interested in something I was cooking. I have always been this way. So the other night I was at the store and they were stocking the shelves. I was weaving my way through the boxes past a young lady putting food on the shelves. I got a few steps further when she said “excuse me.” I was startled to see her half smiling but her eyes were swollen. I think she had been crying. She said “I seen you in this store shopping late for a long time now and you always have a smile and everybody says how safe they feel when you come in to shop at night because we get some pretty creepy people in here. Please don’t think I am crazy but could you pray for me?” I was stunned. A million things raced through my head and then just a calm came to my spirit as I looked at her and reached out to hold her hands. I didn’t realize I had left the little phone I carried on when I was recording my notes for a friend about what was on sale and it caught all of my prayer:

“Father and Creator of all things old and new. It is said that we would know each other not by religions or denominations, but by the light of your love in us. The same love that conquers all. The same love that covers a multitude of sins. The same love that even when we fall short as human beings, it never fails to be there to give us hope and strength and direction even now. For when we gather together in what little measure of strength and faith that remains in the midst of our troubles and choose to share our light of love, we find clarity, we find peace, and we find direction in a path that was once hidden by a darkness that our individual light alone cannot pierce. But through your love we see through the dark glass. The light reveals to each of us a different picture. Father I do not know this woman’s name or what weight is upon her. Whatever the prayer of her heart. Whatever is painted on the canvas of her life that our shared light reveals is not for my wisdom to say what she should do. But whatever light I have is yours to use so that she may see your purpose clearly. Give her the courage to embrace the love of others for even if we walk alone through the valley of the shadow of death, there is no evil to be feared while protected by the sincere love of those who know your purpose in their lives. For we know it isn’t enough that we can quote from a book, or hold religious titles, or be lifelong members of a building. For the light of who you are does not dim when the last body has left the building, it requires no lock to keep out thieves, and no insurance to replace valuables. For we live in the everlasting light of the blessed assurance that our faith dwells in a place not made by human hands. Father open her mind and her heart even now to receive the answer I believe you have already given her. The answer that perhaps is not the same as those with whom she may fellowship, or even those within her own family. For we know that your wisdom often creates outcasts and voices crying in the wilderness. Help her to recognize that you also created the wilderness and that there is beauty to be found there amongst those of us who are wilderness walkers; who can fellowship and make a tabernacle of hands wherever we are, and find you in the midst- even here in this store. As we go, let us carry the hope of your love with us, and may it last us until we meet again. Maybe not the same people. Maybe not the same faces. But in the same love that allows us to recognize your presence in our lives. We thank you for the grace that has carried us thus far and the wisdom that you continue to give as we let loose of fear and in this moment walk in peace knowing that we have heard from you this day. In whatever name and or purpose you are called or dwell in the lives of those within the sound of my voice, may it manifest in a merciful walk that we may grow in love toward one another. Amen.”

Before I opened my eyes she had already hugged the stuffing out of me. Along with a handful of people who somehow also had stopped in the aisle to listen. Some days I am simply left stunned. -NEO BLAQNESS