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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)



She looked little different than dozens of other seniors in this retirement town. With soft gray curls peeking from her hand knitted cap and her tweed coat pulled tightly around her, she unloaded her sparsely filled grocery cart. Slacks and tennis shoes completed the casual look so common here. Yet something captured his attention.

That coat hardly looks warm enough for this howling wind, he surmised absently as he waited his turn. She’s no doubt on a fixed income, maybe a widow.

She carried on a lively chat with the cashier and reached for her multi-compartmented organizer handbag.

This is an outing for her – something to get out of that empty apartment. He began to unload his cart as her total was rung. He was mentally calculating how many boxes he would need for his groceries when a change in their voices arrested his attention again.

She stood with a worn wallet open in front of her. A few bills were spread out on the counter as she tallied the coins in her hand. Her nervous laugh now seemed sharp in contrast to the pleasantries of a moment ago.

“Well, I sure messed up this time. I’m usually right on top of things.” He noticed the rising pink in her cheeks. “Let’s put the cookies back. And… the apples. And the cheese – I’ll be fine ‘til next time without that.” She kept pushing items back until the total was in line.

As she put her last coins on the counter and moved to the end to find a box for her purchases, she bit her lip and pulled her coat even tighter around her.

He knew how it felt to be on a fixed income; the stress and frustration, sometimes even hopelessness. It’s not right. She’s somebody’s mother. She should be able to have her cookies – AND her cheese.

Then he heard a Voice -- one he knew well -- and he knew what to do. “Go ahead and ring them on my tab,” he murmured to the cashier. “Just don’t let her know where it came from.”

“Are you sure?” The cashier appeared startled.

The shopper found a box and returned with tears in her eyes just as the cashier pushed the last purchases down the counter toward her.

“But…but I didn’t pay…”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s all taken care of.” The cashier’s voice was a gentle caress now; the voice you would use to soothe a frightened child.

“Why thank you, dear.” The tears threatened to overflow, but her soft voice carried gratitude and more. Renewed strength, he thought. Maybe even hope?

She gathered her box and went out to brave the cold again. Could it be she walked a little straighter?

The cashier looked up at him with a smile and wiped a tear of her own away before she continued to scan his order.

He had not felt led to say anything, yet God had preached the sermon He knew His children needed. A sermon of love and hope. A sermon without words.

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This article has been read 643 times
Member Comments
Member Date
julie wood03/08/07
I loved this story! The descriptions, especially of the elderly lady and the compassionate thoughts of the narrator observing her, made both main characters come alive for me. So did the dialogue. I felt as though I were right in that grocery line! Beautiful, moving message too--and the unusual title instantly grabbed me. Great job!
Bonnie Way03/09/07
Great story! I loved the narrator's thoughts as he observed the lady, and the little details that made the story (apples, cheese). Definately an eye-catching title.
Bonnie Way03/09/07
Great story! I loved the narrator's thoughts as he observed the lady, and the little details that made the story (apples, cheese). Definately an eye-catching title.
Marilyn Schnepp 03/11/07
Tears in the eyes of the old lady and cashier - and now me! Yes indeed, a Sermon right from the throne of God; and I loved it from beginning to end, keeping my interest throughout. This 10 second sermon in a supermarket beats many an hour long sermon in a Church! Kudos!!
Jacquelyn Horne03/12/07
Very good story of the love of God being manifested. One thing, I would introduce the children earlier in the piece. (They might be fidgeting by his side or something). I assume that they were there by the last lines, but it isn't clear to me. But this really was a GREAT piece.
cindy yarger03/12/07
Very good. A refreshing read and well written.
Loren T. Lowery03/13/07
Perfect! I really enjoyed this read as it brought back some good and fond memories.
Catrina Bradley 03/13/07
A very well told story of hope and compassion. I especially love the last line.
Joanne Sher 03/14/07
Excellent message wonderfully shared. Great description and detail. I felt like I was right there.
Jen Davis03/15/07
This was such a sweet story that so tugged at my heart. It’s the little things we can do for others that can make such a difference. Loved the story. Thanks for sharing.