She pushes the shopping cart with gentle sensitivity, feeling every bump in the cold hard floor. After a few aisles she decides to stop for a moment to rub her hands. She could put her gloves on but she prefers to feel everything, to be in touch with her surroundings as much as possible. And gloves prevent that. Or her gloves do. So every few aisles, she rubs her hands. To keep them warm.
Her hands have lived many years. They are soft and forgiving as she kneads them like dough. She watches as the skin ripples up on the back of her hand. It reminds her of tissue paper. Or ripples on the sea. She loves the sea.
He is in a rush. Like most his age. His coat is thin and it’s cold outside. Maybe that’s part of it. Or maybe he is late. Is that why he keeps checking his phone? Or maybe he just doesn’t know how to slow down? His fine leather shoes clip the floor. He doesn’t hear them though. He doesn’t hear much of anything. Not much more than the nagging in his head. His own voice, hurrying him on.
She is just a few steps away watching him, watching him as she rubs her hands.
She is touched by his pace, his inability to be present because of his rush. But more than that, she is touched by his beauty. Not his face or his fine clothes or the way his hair falls across his forehead, no, so much more than that. She is touched by the beauty coming from his eyes, by the grace etched in his fingers, by the warmth flowing from his being. She wonders if he feels it, if he realizes the beauty that he is. And just as she does, he sneezes.
Loud and clear and with such intensity that his hand juts out hitting a jar off the shelf. It crashes to the cold, hard floor with a bang. Like a gun shot. Someone screams. He swears. Again and again and again. And calls himself names. Names the old woman doesn’t understand. Shoppers peer. Faces scoff. And as she watches, she hears him continue to criticize, to punish … himself. For being human.
“You are a gift,” she says.
“Ha! A gift? A gift to the cleaning staff, maybe. More like a pain in the ass. And a complete idiot.”
She stops rubbing her hands, her whole self now focused on him, all him.
“You are beautiful,” she says, her eyes now wet with tears.
He turns and stares.
She holds her warm hands together, her eyes now dripping tears.
He half-smiles at her, thanking her with his eyes for something he does not understand.
And as he walks away he finds himself turning to find the woman’s eyes once again. They are gentle and sparkling and filled with a love he forgot he knew.
“I am beautiful,” he says in a whisper, touched by her distant gaze. “Maybe I forgot. Yes maybe, somehow, I did …”
* * *
Be the wise heart who looks beyond to see the beauty within every person around you. Be the wise heart who sees and helps others to see, too. Illuminate compassion. Bring light to the neglect and hatred so many have for themselves. How? By being the wise heart. By being the old woman inside yourself who sees with nothing but love. Because she knows … and you know … that love is who we all are, each of us, at our core.