Is it i lord?
I invite you to join me on a faith journey with the poor through a book called Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25 Cents at a Time by Jane Knuth. The book is a compilation of Jane’s experiences working in a thrift store run by the St Vincent de Paul Society in Kalamazoo, MI. Each chapter is a story of someone who touched her heart and what they taught her about Christ in an unlikely setting. She reminds us that God is not only present in the Eucharist and the Scriptures on Sunday, but that He spends most days working through the laity as we go about the mundane tasks of daily living. Each week I will post some brief thoughts on a chapter, how it has impacted my own faith, and some reflection questions. I hope you enjoy the journey.
Jane’s first visit to the St Vincent de Paul Thrift Store is to buy a rosary for her daughter’s First Communion. She is frustrated with their limited hours and is flabbergasted to learn that they don’t accept credit cards. The 82-year-old cashier explains that most of their customers don’t have credit cards. Her transaction is interrupted by a man who is upset about something he was given the day before. Jane is intimidated by his behavior, but the cashier kindly smiles at him and speaks calmly as she tries to help. After the man leaves, Jane finds cash to pay for the rosary and learns that their hours are limited due to a lack of volunteers.
Reading this story reminds me of a volunteer experience i had in high school. I spent 4 hours every Saturday afternoon Mercy’s oncology unit for service hours and a tuition discount. My job was to talk with patients and help with paperwork at the nurse’s station. At first I was very intimidated. I didn’t know how to talk to strangers who had a terminal disease. One Saturday, I went into a man’s room and wound up spending most of my shift there. At the time I remember feeling a little scared, like Jane did when the man came in the store. I did not know the man I was talking to and wondered what he would say. To my surprise, we quickly found common ground as I learned that he had graduated Dowling High School in 1944. From there the conversation flowed and I gradually felt more at ease. Like Jane, I learned that there was no need to be afraid or hesitant to serve others. The only requirement was an open heart and mind. I’ve enjoyed volunteering ever since.
- How was the cashier in the story able to be so calm with the angry man and what did Jane learn from her?
- How do you approach intimidating situations?