Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A gift at the supermarket

The other day I received a gift while shopping at our neighborhood grocery store.

It wasn't a gift from Key Market; it was a gift from God. Here's what it was: a sense of wonder and gratitude. I was heading over to the baking aisle, and I thought of how wonderful it was to be in a land of plenty, where flour and sugar and salt and baking powder and dozens of herbs and spices, are all on the shelf. And not just flour, but bags of the stuff in various sizes, "all-purpose" flour and bread flour and cake flour, whole wheat flour and organic flour and unbleached flour. And salt—which used to be so valuable that people were paid in it (thus our word salary)—plain salt and iodized salt, sea salt and kosher salt and ice cream salt, from various makers and in various sizes.

And milk! Whole milk and cream and half-and-half and reduced fat and nonfat and organic, soy "milk" in various flavors, almond "milk" and Mocha Mix® all right there with "sell by" dates stamped on them. Fresh eggs are nearby, too—white eggs and brown eggs by the dozen, organic and low-cholesterol eggs, eggs laid by cage-free hens. The grocery store is a marvel, and even if not everything is "health food," the store has a variety of food and drink (and housewares and personal-care products, not to mention pet food and stationery) not imaginable to people a century ago (or even a few decades), or to many people today born in, say, Mali.

Which reminds me of a time when Solomon "made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones" (2 Chronicles 1:15). Solomon may have been richer than anyone else in history, but a middle-class resident of Jerusalem could not have imagined what you and I can see at the neighborhood market.

But here in the United States, and in particular in Silicon Valley, we do live in a sort of Solomon's Jerusalem. The wealth and consumption (and destruction) available to some folks at a whim—astonishing. And even those of us in the "middle-class" truly are rich, as in the richest 1% or 2% of people on the planet.

So that was my gift: a reminder that by any sane measure, I'm rich and fortunate beyond what anyone has a right to deserve. And so, for some time anyway, I complained a bit less than I usually do, I experienced a bit more joy than I usually do. And I hope I also spread a bit more joy, a bit less frustration and consternation than usual.

But this morning I found things to grumble to God about. Wretched man that I am! Thanks be to God that there is no condemnation for us in Christ. And that he will, according to his promise, sanctify us (1 Thessalonians 5:23f) and complete the work he began.

No comments: