Making Soup

While this post is not exactly about Reiki, it is about mindfulness. Which in and of itself, is about Reiki.   It is about the connection we all share, with this World and with each other.  While I always understood the principle of each us being connected and a part of a Great Oneness, I have to admit I could never *really* say I could find a way to practically experience or embrace the principle.  Though I was  always hopeful one day I would “get it”.

That one day occurred in the most boring and typical way imaginable– in a crowded grocery store when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed because of my day and the crowd was seeming more than the “normal” intolerant.

I was efficiently hitting the aisles collecting all the items on my well planned list– I actually write the items down based on their physical location in the store so my steps are planned and efficient.  Somewhere in the middle of the aisle there was an elderly man simply staring at a shelf, but not focusing or seeing.  Several people made snide comments, one physically pushed him to get around him.

My whole world shrank like a camera shutter closing to a pinpoint;  only seeing this one man.  I gently placed my arm on his shoulder and asked him what he was looking for.  He looked at me in a fog, slowly his eyes focused and I could see he was crying.   He simply said, “I need to make soup.”

Well… anyone who knows me well knows soup is my gift of love to this World.  So I asked, “Do you know what kind of soup you need to make?”  He responded with, “Chicken Noodle was always my favorite. So that seems like what I should make.”  None of this seemed odd to me at the time– just someone who needed some recipe help.  I suddenly forgot about the crowd. I forgot about why I had been rushing around in the first place. I told him to follow me and took his cart.  Systematically, we hit each aisle. Me asking pertinent questions like, “What kind of noodles should we get?” and “Do you want to add cooked chicken or get some chicken breast and cook it separately and add it?”  He answered each question with much consideration and thought.

As we got to the poultry section he suddenly looked at me and said, “I have never cooked anything in my life. How am I ever going to do this?”  So I asked the butcher for a piece of butcher paper and a pen.  Oddly, this was not met with a question or any resistance, simply a smile and it was handed to me.  So I wrote down step by step instructions to making a basic chicken noodle soup.  We collected the vegetables, the spices, the stock and a nice loaf of fresh bread to go with the soup.

Then I simply wished him well as he thanked me in a bit of a haze and moved toward the checkout lanes, while I retrieved my cart and finished collecting my items.  I felt calm, not rushed and annoyed, as I had when I first got to the store.  I didn’t even connect the two events, merely went home and from what I recall had a pleasant evening and never thought of the event again.  Until the next week… when I went back to the store.

I was approached by one of the clerks I see every time I go to the grocery store.  I smiled and said “Hi!”.  She returned the smile and said, I have been hoping to see you since last week!  I have something for you.  And she handed me a card in a sealed envelope with the picture of an angel on the front.  I said, “Is this from you?”  She responded by telling me an elderly gentleman had brought it in last week and described me, hoping someone would recognize me as possibly a frequent customer.

“Sweetie– he described you to a T, right down to the tattoos on your arm! He said it was really important I give this to you. But I don’t know why or what it is.”  As she smiled and handed me the envelope I am not certain I can describe what I was feeling.  I had a strange tingling, and for some reason just knew none of this was random.  Following are the exact  words from the letter inside the envelope:

“When I woke this morning, I had decided to end my life.  I had debated it for 8 weeks, finally coming to the conclusion that if it made me a coward, then that is what I would be, for I could find no reason to continue on in this life without my sweet angel Margaret.  She died of cancer 8 weeks ago.  She was the alpha to my omega. She was my beginning, my middle and my end. She was the punchline to every joke. She was the ending to every movie that makes us weep because it is so perfect and beautiful– and I could not find a way to go on without her.

While I know my decision would cause her pain, I saw no other way.  Margaret was an amazing woman.  She loved animals– every animal– even strange things like bats and spiders. I would holler, and she’d come running to put a spider into the garden, or in the basement if it was Winter.  But the one thing she loved more than anything was cooking! She said she cooked because it was a way to show people her love without using words.  The thing she loved to make more than anything was soup! Any kind of soup, and no matter the season– soup in the Winter, soup in the Summer, soup on President’s Day.

So I woke up that morning thinking, “If I can make soup, I can keep her close and the pain will be a little less.”  But I got to the grocery store and people were so busy, so hateful, so self consumed, and I realized I didn’t even know what to get or even how to make a single thing (Margaret never used a recipe– she said it was a sign of weakness!)  So I became paralyzed staring at my empty cart, knowing I would turn around and go home to die.

Then I felt Margaret– I really felt her soul, her heart, her love. And I looked up and you were standing there and looking like nothing I expected, asking me what I needed.  I went home in a bit of a fog. But I went through my door with a mission.  I was going to make SOUP!  I followed your instructions (which were meticulous) and I even felt a chuckle coming on because I believe Margaret would be smiling and nodding her head calling me a cheater for using that recipe on butcher paper.

You know when they talk about “Chicken Soup for the Soul”? I understand that now.  That chicken soup saved my soul.  I made a decision that day that I would learn to make a new soup every week.  And each week I will take some of that soup to the nurses that were so loving to my wife when she was in the end stage of cancer. 

You see, you had no idea when you woke up that morning that you would be granted angel wings.  But if you didn’t already have them, you do now.

I am blessed our paths crossed. Today you saved a life, and it was a life worth saving.

With God’s Grace,

This event has forced me to see each day not just as a day to get shit done.  But a day I am allowed to make a difference. We really have no idea of the ripple effect that one single kind word or action can have.  I’m not talking about giving away millions of dollars, or a big public show of things– I am talking only of simple human acts of kindness.  Do not make them random! Ignore that  bumper sticker– make them happen EVERY. DAMN. DAY! Because if soup can save a life, imagine what smiling at someone can do?!

Namaste my Light Beings!


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