“Shine like the whole Universe is yours.” ~Rumi
I had a revolutionary experience at a grocery store. Yes, a grocery store. I’ll never forget that day.
I believe that some of the most mundane and unimportant places I’ve visited have been the bedrock of my spiritual growth.
There is so much to witness at a store: people frantically trying to load up for the weekend, elderly in their motorized carts, people in line glued to their smart phones, and then of course the workers that 90 percent of the time seem achingly miserable and sad.
It was like any other day as I stepped foot into my local store to pick up up a few essentials.
I was walking in with the intention of getting some food for the week and ended up walking out with so much more.
Once inside, I saw a man standing at the front of the store with the biggest smile on his face. It was as bright as the sun. It was the kind of joy that you could easily tell was radiating from within.
I did what I habitually do: looked him in the eye, smiled, and called him by his name. As I grabbed my cart and glanced back up, I stopped dead in my tracks.
I had a huge rush of awareness: No one was noticing this man. Not a single person in my ten-minute stare down paid attention to him. No one.
He waved, with a big ole grin, to every single soul that entered the store. You see, his job was to acknowledge every person that walked through the front door. He was the “greeter” at a local store, and the best darn one I’ve ever seen.
This immediately fueled anger inside of me. It was as if he was invisible.
Why was no one seeing this man? Why didn’t they wave back—say hi, and enjoy his presence?
Why? Why? Why?
I wanted to stand right up there with him, get in people's faces, and make them see us. But instead, I took a breath and allowed myself to get calm and centered before I did anything.
I decided to shift my attention to the entrance to actually see who was walking inside.
First, I noticed a businessman that kept glancing at his watch; it looked like he was in a real hurry. Who knows—he may have been late picking up donuts for his next meeting (that he was running).
Next, I observed a mother who had a cart full of kids that were kicking and screaming. She was rummaging through her purse; I bet it was hard to find that grocery list while managing to keep “all arms and legs inside of a moving vehicle.”
She may have even been a single mom, and her only option was to take them with her (hardest job in the world—I watched my mom raise five).
I then witnessed a couple who seemed to have been so in love that even if the greeter was standing there with a sign that had their names in bright red, they still wouldn’t have seen.
They encapsulated my attention all together. I just love seeing love, and my heart skips a beat seeing others that love each other so much, they live in worlds of their own. Smiling into one another’s eyes, how could they possibly have noticed him?
Soon after I stopped watching, I turned my attention back to the greeter. He was an unbelievable man.
It didn’t matter who walked through the door, or what baggage they were bringing with them—he treated each of them the same. He was so awake to life, so kind and conscious to the real meaning of love (little did he know).
His arms were open, ready to pour into anyone, no matter who they were. Even though he was being ignored.
I learned an incredible lesson that day, or lessons, I should say. And I’ll never forget these simply yet mighty realizations that are now imparted into my everyday life.
On days when I find myself judging others, and when my patience is awfully low, I think of this man. On days when I feel unappreciated and unnoticed, I think of him too.
I remember that he gave of himself, without any expectation of return. I remember how his smiled wasn’t dependent on if others smiled back.
I think of how his joy radiated from the inside out and how others, including me, were still affected by his actions, even if it didn’t seem so.
So that “greeter” is perhaps the embodiment of truth. This is what life is about: giving others the benefit of the doubt, because you make mistakes too. Understanding other people’s suffering instead of judging them, because you have suffered also.
I would encourage you to wake up to the world around you, and realize that people are simply doing the best that they can. They really are.
Next time you feel the temptation to judge others for what you can only see on the outside, try seeing it from another angle.
Attempt to contemplate what they may be going through or the suffering you may not be able to see on the surface. Pass a silent blessing onto them and try to see yourself in them.
This will happen to you. You will show love and get nothing in return. You will smile and not get one back. You might even be completely ignored. You’ll open your heart and people will pass you by.
At the end of the day, it’s not about how others receive you or what adversity you may face; it’s about one thing and one thing only: choosing to shine your light anyway.
I truly believe that the Universe can be ours, if we can see things from the whole and complete oneness. In a world that seems to be full of hate, rage, and anger, we must never forget that we are all in this together.