Saturday, July 11, 2015

Love Thy Neighbor

I am standing for the third time at the Returns counter at Bed Bath and Beyond, having failed a simple task once more. It should be easy to match bathroom rugs with new tile, but it hasn't been so.

I haven't paid much attention to the store cashier, until he says, "Sorry about that."

I respond, "That's ok, I'm in no hurry." Yet, I wonder what he is sorry about, and so I inquire.

"When the refund is a certain amount of money, the manager has to ok the transaction by using his key in the register, and I have to wait for him."

I have now connected with the cashier and together we must awkwardly wait.

I take a stab at some trivial conversation. I look at his left hand and see that he is married.

"If my husband worked here," I begin, I'd be calling him all the time to bring something home. I bet," I search for the politically correct words, "I bet your spouse does that all the time if," again, I stop because I don't know which pronoun is correct, he or she, and I admit it to the cashier, because I've backed myself into this corner and it's obvious that I am stumbling. "I'm sorry, I don't know whether to use he or she," and I smile not expecting him to answer. He pauses slightly.

"It's a she."

"I just realized that with the changes in law, that it could have been either."

"Yeah, it's too bad, isn't it," he responds.

His response catches me off guard, but not more than a few seconds "Well, that really depends on your point of view," and I realize that point of view, is at the very crossroads of today's moral debates.

We friendly chat until the transaction is over, I wish him luck in his marriage (of only two months), and I'm on my way.

As soon as I reach the car, I call my mom to share what I saw as an amusing, awakening encounter. She lightly chides me for not standing up for the Christian stance on traditional marriage. I affirm to her I haven't lost my faith, but instead had an epiphany, and I believe the explanation is found in the writings of 20th century pastor Harry Fosdick:  Some Christians carry their religion on their backs. It is a packet of beliefs and practices which they must bear. At times it grows heavy and they would willingly lay it down, but that would mean a break with old traditions, so they shoulder it again. But real Christians do not carry their religion, their religion carries them. It is not weight; it is wings. It lifts them up, it sees them over hard places, it makes the universe seem friendly, life purposeful, hope real, sacrifice worthwhile. It sets them free from fear, futility, discouragement, and sin--the great
enslavers of men’s souls. You can know a real Christian, when you see him, by his buoyancy (as quoted by L Tom Perry, A Year of Jubilee, 1999).” 

The encounter, the understanding of point of view, left me feeling buoyant, and I believe in part because it was a moment of suspended judgement and instead, a moment of charity and love as advocated by the Savior: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.