8. Faith

Paved Paradise


It’s not one of my favorite things to do: shop at one of the huge retailers, like Wal-Mart or Home Depot. I get easily confused in the middle of big crowds. And the traffic – sometimes I think it’s almost more dangerous to drive in the parking lot than it is on the open road. Despite my feelings, I — like the rest of America — typically go to the “big boxes” on the weekends. But I’ve often thought that it’d be smart to wait and go in the “off hours” — at night or early in the mornings. And tonight, well, I was sold on the fact that that is exactly what I’ll try to do in the future. 


I was tired and in no mood to get back out on the road, but I felt like I needed to make the trip to Lowe’s. There were just a few things I needed, and I’d made a personal commitment earlier to have them in hand by the end of the day. So I pushed myself to follow through, got in my car at about 8 PM and headed out into the night.


On the way to Lowe’s I passed by a local Radio Shack and remembered that I needed a couple of camera batteries. I stopped and hurried to the door since I thought they might be near closing. Well, they were, and I was their last customer for the day. That was sort of nice. The store was quiet and clean, and I had the full attention of the manager who helped me with the batteries. Without any trouble, I got what I needed and continued on my way to the “big box,” Lowe’s.


The first thing that struck me when I turned into the parking lot was just how big it looked with only a handful of cars parked there. For the first time, I got a space near the front door. Wow, that was nice.


Walking in, I noticed that this place where I’d shopped so many times just didn’t’ feel the same. There was something markedly different. The aisles felt nice and wide, the floors were clean, and there were very few shoppers walking around. And unlike most days, it was quiet; I think I even heard a little background music playing. Can you imagine that? No noise in Lowe’s? It was wonderful, so nice in fact that I just wanted to hang out for a while. I even started looking at things that I really didn’t even need.


It’s not so much the crowd that bothers me, it’s the confusion. And that’s’ typically what I feel when I shop at one of these mega-retail centers: confusion. I feel like I’m competing with others to get my stuff and get out as quickly as possible. I quess I’m just not a good weekend warrior: I’m not one to win the attention of the salesperson or to get the prime spot in the parking lot. And tonight was further confirmation that I’m better able to manage when I’m a little out of sync with the world.  


Do you ever feel like that? I believe that God must equip some people to move better in the shadows and the trails of life than in the mainstream. I don’t believe that it’s a character flaw to feel more comfortable on the periphery. I think that God maybe wants me there; there must be something that He wants me to find in the corners.


Day 8 Guide


The spirit of Joyous Gard is one of self-understanding. Who am I? And in what ways has God uniquely equipped me to make a difference? Am I to stand in the light, or search the shadows?


© 2006, Levi Hill

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