It's mid-December and we find ourselves still struggling through pandemic times. The nature of our casual encounters like those we might have at the grocery store have changed. To me, they feel less connective. We are not only distanced from one another physically, but emotionally as well. I wonder if this is how we truly want to experience one another going forth for as long as the pandemic lasts.
A few years ago, I shared a practice I call "Grocery Store Smile." This was something I always tried to do while in the grocery story. I'd put a little smile on my face and make eye contact with a perfect stranger, or with someone who worked in the store. With a slight smile I could convey, "I see you," and send them a simple blessing. With someone who looked stressed, I might smile and silently say, "May you be at ease in your life today." Sometimes people would smile back, or at least offer a little twinkle through their eyes, as if they had received my subtle kindness.
Today, with masks on, with tension running high, many of us move in and out of stores as quickly as we can, and smiles are hidden. Eyes, however, are still the windows to the soul, as Shakespeare said, and even in pandemic times, we can convey goodwill with our eyes. Our eyes can smile, twinkle, shine a little brighter when we see someone. Our eyes can convey what's in our hearts—fear or friendliness, anxiety or appreciation. The choice is ours.
This holiday season, I invite you to try my Grocery Store Smile practice now and then. It's one easy way to convey Presence to people—and lovingkindness, too. During these times, we can all use a little more kindness.
Tis' is the season of giving. May we never forget how sweet it can be to offer someone the simple gift of a blessing.
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Janice Lynne Lundy, PsyD, DMin, MPC
is an interspiritual director/guide, educator and counselor who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for nearly thirty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including My Deepest Me; Your Truest Self; and Portable Peace. She is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.