Since the task of feeding our family of 6 falls to me, I spend a lot of time in grocery stores. For the most part, I’m a Kroger girl and always have been. Other than a few years when my mom tried shopping at Mega Market (the place in 100 Oaks Mall where you had to bag your own groceries), I was raised on Kroger—smiley face stickers and “let’s go krogering” jingle and all. I will sometimes venture into other stores if necessary, but I like knowing where things are in my regular place—start with produce, move on to soups, then pastas, etc.
Last week, after dropping my youngest son off at soccer practice, I needed to do my weekly grocery shopping. I was going to pass a Publix to get to a Kroger, so I decided to get crazy and go inside a different store. Sometimes I even surprise myself.
Nothing was in the same place. I kept walking past things on my list, and then I had to backtrack (which was made even more difficult by the “do not enter” and “enter here” stickers on the floor). As a rule, I only go to Publix if we’re in Florida, so I kept reminding myself I wasn’t on vacation.
To make things even more confusing, when I was finally done shopping and the cashier was ringing up my items, the friendly bagger boy posed a puzzling question through his face mask. “Got big plans for the weekend?” he asked. I paused before answering. So many thoughts swirled in my head.
“The weekend?” I stammered through my own face mask. “I have been thinking today was Monday all day. What day is it?”
“It is Monday,” he responded. “I just like planning ahead.” I told him that I had no idea what I was doing in five days, but I liked his initiative.
As I drove home with my van full of groceries, I thought about my shopping experience and how it’s possible to feel like a stranger even when you’re just a few minutes from home. It can be an unsettling feeling. It’s a good reminder to be on the lookout for actual strangers (not just Kroger shoppers who’ve wandered into Publix) who might need a little help.
At the end of the Book of Hebrews, we see a final list of exhortations: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
The author is reminding the readers that the best way to love is to share, share their successes and sufferings and suppers. To love each other like we’re family, even if we aren’t related. I can’t imagine a better reward for showing hospitality than to be treated to dinner with an angel.