At the end of the day I was given the most important task.
* * *
s my car turns the corner, I see her. Standing in the brisk morning air, holding a small black purse, wearing a light coat, hat, and gloves, is Rosalie. Last night I received a call from my friend Danielle, who is sick. She says it is bad timing because she needs to take her grandmother shopping tomorrow. Can I help? I have time.
Rosalie smiles and waves as if we have been friends for years, when truly this is our first meeting. As I help her into the vehicle she thanks me for taking time to help her run this important weekly errand and apologizes for any inconvenience. It really is no trouble at all.
On the way to the grocery store Rosalie pulls out a few notecards from her purse. They are recipe cards with tiny print all over.
Every Sunday Rosalie goes to the grocery store. It is a smaller grocery store in the middle of town that has managed to survive the growth of larger commercial grocery chains around it. Sixty years ago Rosalie’s husband inherited the store from his father. She tells me it was a smaller town “back then,” and points out crowded areas that were once open spaces.
As we enter the grocery store I can see why it is still in business. It is a multisensory experience with beautiful arrangements of fruits and vegetables and the aroma of fresh bread and pastries from the bakery. Rosalie hands the recipe cards to Danielle’s brother, now the store manager. As he walks away Rosalie invites me to head upstairs to the manager’s office so I may view the entire store from above.
The office is overloaded with family portraits and comfortable furniture. This is a second home.
Rosalie points at the dairy aisle and tells me that is where the weekly ritual all began. Forty-two years ago, while standing here, she saw a young woman enter the store holding the hands of two little boys. They walked to the dairy aisle. “Timing is everything,” she says. “Something made me pause, as if my guardian angel had been instructed to tap me on my shoulder and make me aware of her,” her gaze remains on the aisle. She’s reliving the moment.
In my mind’s eye I see Rosalie, a young woman herself, observing behind the one-way-mirror windows surrounding the office, feeling the nudge of the Holy Spirit.
The woman stood in the aisle long enough that Rosalie had an opportunity to notice details. It was winter, but they had no coats. “God had sent her my way in His time. I took a cart, and, trying to imagine what she would need for the boys, I shopped for her. When I reached the dairy aisle, she was still there.
She saw me, the cart, and began to cry. She hugged me, said she was driving to Oklahoma, back home to her mother, leaving her abusive husband.” Rosalie’s eyes tear up. “Lance and I took them to the bakery, got sandwiches, hot chocolate, and goodies for the boys,” she sighs. “We gave her groceries and the little money we had. She was so grateful, I hope . . .” She pauses, wipes away tears. You never knew if she reached her destination.
This is why every week Rosalie goes about preparing recipe cards. Each card has a list and a location for the groceries to be delivered. For 42 years she has taken the time to do this. “God simply places them in front of us, at the right time, His
time, and we are called to help. God’s timing is everything.”
She points to the flower shop in the store. I am given the most important task: to prepare a small bouquet of flowers to include in the deliveries and attach a small card that simply reads: “God is good.”
* * *
Later that night while reading my evening devotional I cannot stop thinking of timing. Danielle getting the flu was perfect timing. I had the opportunity to meet Rosalie. I was reminded of God’s work in human hearts. I smile. Rosalie was right. God’s timing is everything.
Dixil Rodríguez, a college professor and volunteer hospital chaplain, lives in Texas. This article was published May 10, 2012.