Notes from Jan

The Mark

February 23, 2023

Just three of us stood in line. The two women ahead of me joked with the young cashier and bagger. They knew each other. Two full carts ahead of me and only one line open signaled this would not be quick. But laughter lightened my mood. The women knew each other and the employees serving us. So laughter erupted when they barked, “I wanna hear, ‘ding, ding, ding’, as you ring up my coupons.” Their joy was contagious and I found myself laughing and joining in.

Then the woman ahead of me turned and said, “I see you’ve been to church.” Feeling sheepish I wondered how it showed. ‘You’ve got that mark on your forehead. I saw that on another woman and asked if we could bump heads so I could get blessed, too.”

I said, “Well, I’ll bless you.” She grinned and said, “Thanks.”Then I added, “When do you usually shop? I think I’d like to be in line behind you again.”

“About now, after I get off work. I work here and I love my job!”

It showed.

So why hadn’t I noticed her before? Well, I didn’t usually shop this late. Since a storm was due to hit, I’d run into Shaw’s Market to pick up a few items last night after leaving the Ash Wednesday service at Christ Church. I’d forgotten about the mark, the sign of the cross on my forehead. But she noticed and wanted a blessing,

Don’t we all.

Someday I’ll shop late, just to let her know she left her mark on me. She blessed me through her laughter, and delight in her job and those who worked with her.

But tonight I’m still wondering, “How will anyone know I’ve been to church if nothing shows on the outside?”

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’ “(Psalm 126:2, NIV)

Joy and laughter leave a mark.

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  • Reply Jeri February 25, 2023 at 7:06 am

    Just beautiful images Jan. I love her comment of bumping heads to receive the blessing! Such a kind encounter and God orchestrated…

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 25, 2023 at 5:30 pm

      Thanks, dear Jeri. That’s how I felt. Such an ordinary reminder of our need to feel blessed. and to laugh. And most especially, to know God sees and loves us. Sometimes, I think, the holiest act is to laugh or cry with someone. Maybe, especially, with a stranger…every day moments when God shows up in unlikely places, through unlikely people. I needed her laugh. She needed a blessing.

  • Reply Wendy February 25, 2023 at 7:05 pm

    Joy and laughter DO leave a mark! As does kindness, right?! Wonderful post Jan <3

  • Reply Jan Carlberg February 25, 2023 at 8:54 pm

    Well,you and Steve are good at spreading both. Keep it up.

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold February 28, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    Lovely reminder and food for thought, thanks Jan!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg March 1, 2023 at 1:37 pm

      Well, dear Alyssa, are you buried in snow in Utah? And yes, it is food for thought. i’m still “tinking.”
      Hugs to you and Andrew.

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