On Friday morning, I was in a rush. That rarely works well for me. I was heading to CT for a couple of days to see my elderly parents, and spend time with my sisters. We have been in a season of intensive caring for our parents in recent months. Both of them have had emergency surgery, followed by weeks of inpatient rehab. Our parents live ‘independently’, and my sisters and I have been navigating the very turbulent waters of helping to find in-home care for our parents, making sure they are safe, mapping their finances, all the while infusing the process with our own personalities, needs, fears, and sadness as we watch our parents struggle.
I felt anxious in anticipation of our time together, wondering how my parents would look and be since the last time I saw them more than a month ago. I wondered what conversations my sisters and I would need to have, as my parents’ needs change regularly. Because the rest of my life is so full, I didn’t have time to pack for my overnight before Friday morning. So instead of taking my usual 30 – 45 minutes for quiet prayer and entry into the day, I went out for a run, scurried around gathering the things I needed for my trip, and sat with my husband to strategize about our calendars and needs at home.
When it came time to leave, I hadn’t had time for breakfast, and was feeling frazzled. My morning prayer time – a practice I know is essential to my grounding and spiritual health – was lost and I had to get going.
I decided to stop by the Dunkin Donuts at the gas station near the end of our road to get a quick bagel to eat in the car (another practice I know has the ability to cause more indigestion than satisfaction). As I stepped up to the counter, I overheard snips of a conversation between the two clerks . . . something about ‘well you can always find her on Facebook’. One of the clerks kindly took my order, and after giving it to the prep person in the back, walked over to the other clerk. It was at that moment I began to realize something was up. The second clerk was clearly undone and distracted. The first clerk spoke with her briefly, and then took her co-worker in her arms and held her as the tears began to flow. They stood there – right at the Dunkin Donuts counter – hugging tightly, one offering comfort while the other sobbed.
Several customers walked in and got in line at the counter. After a minute or two, the prep person came out from the back and let the two huggers know there were people waiting. The embrace ended, and without embarrassment or apology, the first clerk simply said, ‘we’re having a loving moment;’ and then began to take orders again.
I stood in grateful wonder. My morning had been transformed. In my haste for departure from home, I had forfeited the daily practice that grounds me in love and compassion. I had set off for a visit that needed, more than anything, a deep sense of that Great Love that binds and heals, enlivens and empowers. But Love moved in . . . in the form of two women at the donut counter . . . and brought me back to my source.