A short visit to a grocery store this afternoon took an unexpected turn and reminded me of a gift and lesson from the past. As I stood in the checkout line, I suddenly felt a presence behind me. I turned to see a small Hispanic girl with a book in hand. She only had the one item, so I said, “You only have one item, why don’t you go ahead.” She replied that she needed the clerk to check the price on the booklet. Her little brother would be starting school, and she felt this book would help him, but she needed to know the price, because her Mother might not have enough money for it. The girl was so mature, well spoken, gracious, and obviously kind. Rather than seeking a gift for herself, she wanted something to help her little brother succeed. I said, “I’ll buy it for you.” She said, “I’ll have to ask my Mother if it’s ok.” I said, “Let’s get it, and you can tell your Mother I wanted to do this for you and your brother.” She thanked me very graciously.
I told the clerk I wanted to pay for the book separately so that she would have a receipt. With the transaction complete, I gave her the book in a bag with the receipt to show her Mom and put the change in her hand. She thanked me again. I told her I knew that she and her brother would have a wonderful year.
As I drove away, I remembered an incident from my childhood. I was a child probably about the age of this girl. I was at an afternoon movie with my younger siblings. After buying out tickets, there was money left to buy one candy bar. I carefully divided the bar into equal pieces, a piece for each of us.
Suddenly someone touched me on the shoulder. A woman sitting behind us had been watching. In a soft and kind voice, she said that she had watched us share the candy bar, and wanted to give me something. She pressed a coin in my hand, enough to buy more candy. I know I mumbled thank you, but I was lacking the grace and dignity of the young girl I met today. You see, I was embarrassed that she knew there was only enough money for one candy bar. At the time, rather than being able to see a gift of love given only out of love and compassion, I felt it one of pity. I was unlike the little girl today, who had grace and poise, and no apology or shame that she had to check the price first, only a gentle grace and appreciation.
Sometimes a spiritual gift or blessing comes to reveal to us something about ourselves that needs correcting. Although once a flaw in our self-image comes to our awareness, it may take many years to grow into a fuller knowledge of ourselves as a precious being who doesn’t have to do anything to deserve this love that is our birthright, we just have to accept it.
I realized as I was driving away from the store, that on this and other occasions, I have had the opportunity to return the gift the lady gave to me all of those years ago to other children. And perhaps one day, as I was remembering today, they will recall a small act of kindness, and pass along a gift of love to another.
I was reminded of a statement in a talk in 2010 by Harold Klemp, the Spiritual leader of Eckankar, entitled “The Golden Contract.”
“This is the golden contract: that every encounter, without exception, is there to move Soul along spiritually on Its way back home to God. That’s every encounter, every event, without exception.”
An experience from the past, when viewed from the present moment, becomes golden, when we see the lesson of love behind it.
When I was a child growing up in a Christian church in a small town, I thought of heaven as place where the roads were paved with gold and the streets lined with mansions. I didn’t give much thought to what people might do once they moved into their mansions. Now as an adult and a serious student of the spiritual life, I know there are many levels of heaven, wondrous spiritual planes that exist beyond this one, ready to be explored by the spiritually adventurous. And I have learned that the golden road is here now, that we are walking it every day, connecting the dots of our life experiences, so that the picture takes shape, and we find meaning in the smallest details of our day.
When I began today with my morning contemplation, I asked what I needed to learn to take my next spiritual step, to grow in consciousness. And the answer came in the guise of a young Hispanic girl with a golden heart.