Since the lawn and garden stores were so close, a quick stop seemed in order. It was a little unusual but every customer at the garden center chatted with me. One lady asked my opinion about a plant, another wondered what I was planting, another had suggestions for hardy plants for a planter. Someone else wanted to know what I would do with my ferns in winter, and that led to a discussion with several more people about greenhouses.
At first, I thought it was because I was so dirty after weed eating this morning. "Maybe I look like I know what I'm doing," I thought. When a lovely woman followed me into the checkout with my cart to ask the owners if the plants in my basket were perennials, I was pretty sure it had nothing to do with grubbiness.
At my next stop, I had parked but was not yet out of the truck when I heard knocking. I glanced around to see a nice woman pecking at the passenger window. I lowered it to hear what she was saying. "What kind of roses are those? Where did you get them? How long will they bloom? How much were they?" She was full of questions and as friendly as could be. I happily answered all her questions, but she left me wondering again what had promoted this change in the citizenry.
It's common for people I know to greet me (of course), but these were complete strangers who treated me like a friend. I've thought about the experience all afternoon, wondering what caused such nice behavior, and have decided that perhaps it was the tornado. There is something about shared suffering and shared grief that draws us closer and unifies us. The tragedy is that it takes a disaster to open us to others in this way. 9/11 did it, at least for a while. We were one nation under God, and we were united. I saw this same openness after Katrina, as well. Once again, with the recent tornado, we have been met with adversity, it has brought out the best in us, and we have emerged as better people than we were. I like it. I enjoyed visiting with all those lovely strangers today, and I hope it lasts this time. Let's try hard to hold on to this new found kindness.
As you go your way through this next week, make an effort to greet every person you meet. Do not hesitate to smile at strangers. Don't fail to offer a helping hand. You never know. Some people, according to Scripture, have entertained angels unaware. How cool is that? Start smiling and don't stop.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2 NASB)