|God appearing as Love.
Mother Teresa said, “Where there is love, there is God.” I saw God at the local pet shop Friday night where I stopped after work to buy food for our family’s pet rabbits.
The aisle with rabbit food also has food for guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and ferrets, plus cages and various products for each type of animal. I was looking at the bunny treats when God quietly slipped into the aisle and stood beside me. He appeared as Love.
An old woman shuffled into the aisle. She had close cropped grey hair in no particular style, old Bermuda shorts, a T-shirt and a dingy pink sweater. The right side of her face was darkened with some sort of bumps on her skin and she had very few remaining teeth.
We were beside each other, kind of shoulder to shoulder but facing opposite directions since she was looking at hamster cages on the other side of the aisle. I looked at her and she looked at me. We both smiled. Then I went on trying to choose pet food for the rabbits.
Suddenly a boy about age 7 raced into the aisle. He was excited and trying to make up his mind which of the 3 hamster cages he liked best. One cage had a circular staircase with a box at the top for the hamster to sit in, another had an attached ball so the little thing could run to its heart’s delight and the third had several tunnels and tiny box houses on top.
The old woman was the boy’s grandmother and she gently pointed out the various features of each cage to help him decide his choice. I turned to look because the boy was so thrilled at getting a new pet. The grandmother looked at me sadly smiling and in a low gentle voice so the boy could not hear she said, “His dog died last night. Oh, it was so sad. It was hit by a car. It was terrible.”
As she said this I could tell she was reliving the horror of the poor dog’s death and the screaming and crying of her little grandson who no doubt loved his dog as little boys do.
In her compassion for her grandson in his grief, in her love for him she wisely knew that buying him another pet would help ease the terrible pain and shock. Not another dog quite so soon, but another type of animal altogether. So she gathered her money and drove him to the pet shop Friday evening where he chose a fluffy white hamster. The cost of the animal, the cage, a few hamster toys and the food must have been well over $100 – money that the woman could have used for herself, but out of love for her grandson she chose to spend her money on the only thing she thought would help ease his grief.
At one point the grandmother asked me which cage I liked best. The little boy looked up and said to her, “She doesn’t work here. Why are you asking her?” The grandmother kindly corrected him and said that wasn’t the way to speak to other people, whereupon, the child turned to me and graciously apologized like a grown gentleman, then asked which cage I liked. Not wanting to influence his choice I just said that if he were a hamster which cage would he like to have for a home. The grandmother and I looked at each other and chuckled.
Her blue eyes in that bumpy toothless face were fathomless depths of kindness. She walked with me to the hamster enclosure and pointed out which one her grandson had chosen and he raced over to smile and admire it, also pointing it out. Then the young man who works at the pet shop came over and they joined him back in the aisle for the final cage decision.
I walked to the register, paid for my purchases and left. Ten steps out of the door I was suddenly stunned. I thought, “???! What did I just see? That woman was stunningly beautiful! She was so beautiful. She was more beautiful than a movie star. The beauty of her!”
As I saw her astonishing beauty, again I was stunned. There stood a person who by worldly standards was a badly dressed poor old woman no one knew. But suddenly she was Stunning Beauty itself in her love for her grandson.
Then I realized it was love that made her so beautiful. Love for her grandson. Trying to ease his pain. Compassion for his grief and his broken heart. Doing the only thing she knew that would help him begin to heal. I thought, “Did I just see God?! Is that how He looks?”