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Paying it forward can be a very simple thing

Voices of Religion

Posted: May 25, 2012 - 8:30am

Okay, I confess. Sometimes people think I am a little crazy. But that Sunday night I was feeling good about the way the evening service went. Several community churches got together for an hour of singing and worship in our facility. The musicians were good. We had a full house. We experienced something I call "community." I was feeling very good.

On the way home I remembered that I needed some soda, and so I made a stop at a local convenience store. I was also thinking that this would be a perfect opportunity to get something "chocolate" to celebrate the evening.

As I was standing at the counter trying to complete my purchase, a teenage boy came up to purchase a fountain drink. He stood by quietly, holding a large-size soda.

"Anything else?" asked the young red headed man behind the counter.

"I think I also need one of these," I said, pausing to grab something from the Hostess display. "Okay, maybe two of these." And I turned to select another goodie.

The teenager smiled.

It was a sweet smile, genuine and beautiful.

"Is that all?" The young man behind the counter was being exceptionally patient.

"Oh, I'll get his soda, too," I said, gesturing to the boy's soda.

The boy said "Really?"

The cashier said "Are you serious?"

"Sure! I'm feeling magnanimous tonight!"

The boy looked at me and smiled again. "Thanks."

"Pay It Forward," I said, "And be blessed."

He replied, "It will come back to you."

The cashier asked me if I wanted a bag and I said yes. The boy left with his beverage in hand.

The red headed young man behind the counter paused a moment and looked up at me and said quietly, "God bless you for that."

"Well, God bless you, too." I grinned at him and left with my snacks.

It doesn't take much to make a difference, to touch a life. Sure, this was a tiny thing. But three people smiled, spoke to each other and felt just a little better about themselves and about the world.  I think I will try it more often. How about you?

It could have gone differently.  I might never have spoken a word to anyone. I could have just purchased my treats and left. The cashier, as so often happens, could have been impatient or, at the least, too involved to look up at me or speak. He could have laughed at a silly old lady buying "Ding Dongs." I could have avoided eye-contact with the teenaged boy. He could have avoided eye-contact with me. He could have been thinking ill thoughts of me, wanting to hurry up and pay for his beverage.

Anybody can do it. Look up, look people in the eye, smile, say something pleasant. Someone once called it "Do unto others as you would have them do for you."

Rev. Kay Shock is interim pastor of Soldotna United Methodist Church.  When not in Soldotna, she resides in Moose Pass with her husband, retired UM clergy, Jim Shock and their dog Buddy.

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