I work part-time at a local natural foods store. I chose to work there because I wanted to get to know my community in a new way after leaving my prior career, and then traveling the U.S. for almost a year. And it has also these last 5 months offered a supplement to my income as I transition to a new way of living and being in the world.
And starting yesterday evening, New York state has been in ‘lock-down’ because of the virus, meaning all businesses except those that are ‘essential’ are closed. That means grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, hospitals, first responders, fire fighters, police, and most important of all right now hospitals and medical centers remain open. And there are more.
And because they’re open ‘as usual’ but in unusual circumstances, we can take for granted their presence and the people working in those places. We can forget the real choices they are making to stay open for the rest of us. You’re going to need more food in another week or ten days. You’re going to need to drive your car and possibly get gas.
And as you enter the store or go to the gas station, you may go inside and think, “Well, it’s only me, I’m only one person, so I don’t have to observe the protocols they’re asking me to follow”––like wearing ‘gloves’ which they provide, or assisting with your own bagging so they don’t have to touch your products more than necessary.
Or maybe you're someone who typically buys food every day, so you think still going to the grocery store each day and picking up a few items during this period is just OK–because it’s only you. But think about it: If everyone in your community is thinking that way, then the flow of human traffic is steady, thick, even more steady than usual, and you are exposing yourself unnecessarily to many others. And if you’re in a community like mine where we’ve been inundated by people who left New York City, the demand on the local business is even far greater.
Each of us are ‘picky’ shoppers. We’ll pick up a pepper, then set it down in favor of another. We’ll take something from the cooler then set it back––deciding we really don’t need it or didn’t really want it in the first place. We’ll handle the tomatoes, the oranges, the green beans and broccoli––finding that one bunch that feels right in our hand. And we’ll do this all innocently and unconsciously––because that’s just what we do.
That’s the joy and pleasure of experiencing abundance.
Remember though, every time you touch something, someone else is also touching something and perhaps did touch the same product, produce, carton of eggs, butter, bread that you did. If the store is providing you with gloves to wear or asking you to limit your handling of fruit and vegetables and products, please observe this. Don’t complain. Don’t say, “Oh, I won’t touch more than what I want.” I promise you, you will. It is simply something we do–we love to feel the melons, test the ripeness of an avocado, the firmness of the tomatoes.
And remember, they are asking you to follow protocols for you…
Be mindful of the clerks, the hospital receptionists, the first responders who might be having to wear an uncomfortable face-mask all day–if they are lucky enough to have garnered them. Chill out in lines–counting money back, handling cards or machines with latex gloves is a touchy skill. And if someone is pausing to change their gloves, or trying to sanitize a counter, a chair, a glass divider over a counter, or any other thing to keep You safe, acknowledge that someone is looking after You–don’t sigh, don’t frown and say, “Hey, I’ve been waiting here…” Be grateful. Where else do you have to go so fast except back home? Remember, gratitude strengthens your immune system. Anger, frustration and fear weaken it. These are known scientific facts now. Take advantage of this moment to boost your well-being.
Gratitude also opens your heart to your Soul, the part of you that can assure you–like no one else–that you are safe, that you are loved and are love.
Gratitude opens us to what is here… it connects us with a greater sense of Being and with our awareness of ourselves in the universe. That indeed there is a place for us by the very fact of our Being, and not just through achievement….
It was near dusk yesterday when I spoke with a young doctor from a local hospital as he stopped by to purchase some food for his family. Just when he and his partner (who is also in the medical field) need childcare the most, they were told their two children could no longer attend the small childcare where their children had been for the last two years and where their children’s friends were–because he and his wife worked at a hospital. The pang in his voice for his children was palpable. The pang in his voice for him and his wife was present too. And the sudden maneuvering he and his wife had to accomplish that evening over-riding any sense of rest or peace they might have otherwise benefited from.
If you or someone you know works in the medical field, love them, support them. Send them loving light and energy and gratitude. Know too they are being held in a frequency of higher light, consciousness, if they choose it. Don’t shut them out or turn them away when they need our support. When we need them now more than ever. Unlike most of us, they are trained experts in dealing with disease and they love their children too–enough to know and realize how not to expose their children to disease.
These people need our loving support. Not our judgment and fear….
And please, don’t think because someone is working during these times, it’s solely because they ‘can’t afford’ to stay at home and therefore they are not worth being mindful of. Like so many businesses, given the option, nearly half our staff chose not to work–and it was not held against any one of them. But those who chose to continue to work are doing it out of ‘service’––wanting to provide for their communities in a time of upheaval, change, and stress. Wanting to be there because of the people they’ve come to care for. And doing this while training others who’ve also stepped forward to help.
Everyone needs to eat. Many, many are going to need medical attention. And don’t think the police aren’t going to be called during this time of ‘pause’ to more than one home in which domestic abuse, violence, already has its firm roots in place. When people are forced to be closed in with one another, the problems don’t go away, the eyes of estrangement and sadness and pain open up and become all the more clear, visible. And if they don’t know how to handle these aspects of life with kindness, tenderness, and patience, there will be those who need protecting.
Every day, I go into the store, I’m there because I’m choosing to be–because I’ve come to care deeply for an elder couple and their son who needs their care, because the woman who was supposed to have a surgery she’d waited for for months couldn’t decide whether to cancel it nearly wept when she asked me what I thought, and I simply asked her, “How can you love yourself most during this time?” And she knew the answer then immediately, so she went home and canceled the surgery.
I’m there because of the number of people who come in and say, “It feels good to see you–you’re here, calm, and have this energy and smile…. And then I just know it’s going to be all right. We’re going to be all right.”
And I’m there for the man who came in and couldn’t get his usual morning coffee and breakfast wrap (there’s an organic juice bar and café attached to the store that has been closed for over a week now) and wailed around the store, “What is this? Germany in the thirties?” I’m there for him because his rituals are changing and he doesn’t want to face that because it’s how he knows himself; I’m there for him because beneath his anger and judgment is fear, and probably the fear of being alone, of not knowing who to turn to if he did get ill. I’m there for the people in the store who heard him and after he left, to whom I simply said loudly and kindly, “It’s OK. Fear lies beneath judgment and anger. It’s just fear––don’t judge him. Send him your love and kindness. Send him loving energy… We are all–– each and every one of us––going to need it too one day soon.”
And I’m there to shop and fulfill food orders for the elderly, for those already quarantined to be able to stop by our outdoor ‘pick up’ station and get their box of food they ordered because they already have in some way compromised health. And like all the other employees in our store who decided to work, I’m there to help keep them healthy, safe, as they stock oranges, bananas, milk, tea, ginger, onions, rice, lentils, ensuring that when people come in the shelves aren’t empty.