The temperature was 102 and climbing. Against the scorching asphalt and storefront concrete it could easily be even hotter.
As my car swung into the grocery parking lot on Tuesday, I hoped to find shade directly in front of the store, my usual area to park. But then a nudge – what I call a heavenly whisper – had me turning the opposite direction.
“Maybe there’s a blessing ahead,” I thought as I circled the aisles at the far end of Kennewick’s Fred Meyer, my eyes searching for shade.
But there was none. No shade and no blessing.
Resigned to parking next to a car that had a shady spot, hoping at least a shadow would spill onto mine, I pondered why the thought to park in such an inconvenient area had brushed my heart. However, in years past I’d regrettably learned how ignoring a gentle whispering to my heart had cost me lost opportunities; one a last chance to talk with a distant dying friend. Since then, I have paid attention to heaven’s prodding.
Nevertheless, I grumbled as I walked extra steps in the blistering mid-afternoon sun until I reached the edge of the store. As I wound my way through the outdoor summer sale – clothes, dishes and patio furniture in my path – a white-haired woman briefly caught my eye. She stood, supported by her walker, her grocery cart by her side.
“She must be waiting for someone,” I thought as I walked through the smothering heat, my mind focused on getting into the cool relief inside.
An hour passed while I shopped from one end of the store to the other. Then back into the heat I went, dreading the hot car that awaited me. But as I walked the distance along the perimeter of the outdoor sale merchandise, I saw the same elderly woman again. She was now seated in a marked-down porch swing, her face flushed and perspiring.
“Do you need help?” I asked urgently, realizing she had been in the sweltering outdoors since I had entered the store.
She told me hesitantly, and with a bit of confusion, that she was waiting for the senior transportation, Dial-A-Ride. But as I glanced curbside, there was the big van pulling away.
I turned and ran. The driver noticed me as I kept pace with the moving vehicle, waving frantically beside her closed see-through doors.
“There’s a passenger waiting,” I called to the driver as she paused. “And she’s been out here in the heat for at least an hour from when I first saw her.”
What we learned from a dispatcher on duty at the scheduling office, Millie, who was well into old age, had been considered a “no-show” at 1 p.m. when her bus had arrived.
Could she have been in the wrong place, waiting at a distance rather than at the store's front door? Had she stood, then finally sat for over two hours, expectantly waiting?
As I assisted her from the patio swing and ushered her inside to a tall glass of ice water and a place to wait for her rescheduled ride, my thoughts swirled. What if I hadn’t parked in a remote location? I would have walked directly through the front doors and missed seeing the “90-something” lady in distress.
I also realized something else.
When the heavenly whisper had come earlier, it wasn’t all about me. It was about God blessing Millie.
Psalm 91:1 “We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods.” (LB)
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