Jane Schmidt

Jane Schmidt

In “The Merchant of Venice,” William Shakespeare reminded the world: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”  

Sometimes life provides us with divine meetings. Those divine meetings provide an opportunity for us to see a candle shine in a weary world. For me, today was one of those times.

Three people were ahead of me in the checkout line at a local store. First in line was a woman with a heaping cart full of slippers, pajamas, gift cards, sweaters, jackets, and multiple items. A lady ahead of me in line who I will call Suzie remarked, “Looks like you are getting all of your shopping done!” 

The lady checking out smiled and said she was a branch manager for local bank. She explained her office had adopted nine adults and was providing Christmas presents for them all.  

While she checked out, Suzie struck up a conversation with the next lady in line. This lady had bright pink hair, an orange shirt, and leggings with Christmas lights décor. She told Suzie about working at a nursing home and how there were numerous people who had no visitors and received no presents for the holiday. She said she bought pants, socks, and tops for a resident who she knew had no one to care for her. 

As she moved forward in line, she had the cashier check the price of a jacket she was purchasing along with jeans and assorted items. She began to count out her money and announced, “I can’t go over $110 because that is all I have.” She continued to caution the clerk about not going over her limit.

I could see Suzie deep in thought, and I wondered what she was thinking.  Without saying another word to anyone, she reached over and removed the block between the lady’s items and her small purchases and said, “Put this all together, I am buying for her!” 

She and the cashier both looked at Suzie as if she was crazy.  

“You don’t have to do that!” she said. 

When she saw Suzie was serious, she threw her arms around her. They hugged one another equally hard and Suzie whispered, “Thanks for helping at the nursing home. Merry Christmas!”  

Ray, the cashier, gave Suzie a lovely smile and whispered, “That is really nice!”  

Little did they know, I, too, received a gift from this gesture – such a beautiful glow in our weary world. Leaving the store, I could hardly talk, and for whatever reason, I felt like sobbing. I looked at my purchase of a bow for our lamp post and a decoration for our mailbox and thought how my purchases paled in comparison to the gifts of those ahead of me in line. Each gave gifts beyond expectations, gifts completed out of pure love.

I took my packages and walked to my car. As I sat in the driver’s seat, the tears flowed. I considered how many people are out in the world doing good for others even when they can’t afford it. How many are giving their last nickels to the Salvation Army bucket or providing food to a local food pantry or buying for those in need through names on a tree in a public place. 

I think this time of year we all could use a good Christmas cry as we humble ourselves and consider what really matters in this world — it is not the things that will soon gather dust in our houses. It is deep in the loving chambers of a person’s heart where there is always room for consideration of others ahead of self. 

May we all be candles that shine in this weary world! Merry Christmas!