The Tracks We Leave

He knocked on my back door with authority. He was was wearing a backwards baseball cap,  a T-shirt, and khaki cargo shorts.”My name’s Daniel. Are you expecting a delivery from Meijer?” he asked. I nodded.  “Can you bring the bags to the door?”

“Sure,” he responded.

I watched as he walked quickly back through the garage to his van and  opened the door to the cargo area. Immediately, as if they were straining to be released, a carton of Sunkist pop fell and broke in half. Twelve cans rolled around the parking lot. Quickly he scooped them up.  “Sorry,” he yelled.

“That’s okay,” I yelled back.  “At least the cans didn’t burst open.”  I went back inside and got my sturdy grocery-hauling walker. As he brought the bags, I put them on the walker always trying to beat my record of five bags in one trip. On the way back to the garage, I pulled  a $5 bill from my pocket.  He was putting the last bag on the floor.

“I’m sorry,” ‘he said, “They didn’t have any 2% milk.  Actually they didn’t really have any milk. And they were out the cheese you wanted.

“I’m not surprised. “I responded.  “They were on sale this week.”

“And who would have thought they would be out of Meijer croutons!’ he said apologetically.

“I’ll get them next week.” I said.

I pulled the $5 out of my pocket.  “Do you mind getting your tip in person?” I asked.  “I can never get the on-line process to work.

He grinned, “Actually, I prefer it that way!”  I handed him the money, he turned to leave, and I went into the house to put the groceries away.

I never really thought about the missing items until a few days later when I heard a knock on the front door.  I opened it and there he stood, holding two white plastic grocery bags.

“Hi, Daniel,” I said in surprise.  “Here,” he said handing me the bags. “I was at another Meijer store and I found the things you needed.”

I looked in the bags:  four packages of chunk cheese, two half gallons of 2 % milk, and a package of croutons. “You didn’t have to do that,” I responded.

“Yes, I did.  I do this to be a blessing and I didn’t think I was much of a blessing to you the last time I came.”

Tears came to my eyes.  “Well, you were a blessing then and you are a blessing now,” I replied.  “How much do I owe you?”

“I told  you, I do this to be a blessing,” and he turned and left.

I gathered the bags, went back into the house, and collapsed on the puffy blue recliner. These last months have been filled with bleak days of  illness and financial concerns.  After much discussion, my husband and I decided to spend money we don’t have to have our groceries shopped for and delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shoppers for the Meijer program have never been repeat visitors – at least not yet. But they all have been good shoppers and friendly people. After our second delivery, I found a note card at the bottom of last bag.  It read, “Thank you for trusting me with your family’s shopping. Remember you are loved and prayed for.” That one brought me to tears as well.

I do hope that I see Daniel again, but even if I don’t, I will remember his “blessed to be a blessing” attitude.  His gift of grace brings a Dakota proverb to my mind, “You will be known forever by the tracks that you leave.” And those words remind me of the last verse of Psalm 23: “Surely goodness  and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”  This “goodness and mercy” is usually interpreted as God’s gifts to us. But as in Daniel’s case, it can refer to the goodness and mercy that each of us can leave behind for others.  In these times of fear and anger and loss, let’s remember Daniel’s gift and try to leave tracks of goodness and mercy.

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