A Holy Saturday Story
Yesterday I had to mail a package - UPS it, actually. Since I was in the neighborhood - of my little UPS shipping outlet - I stopped at a place called ARC - it's like a Goodwill store, only operated by the county. On occasion I stop by to look for frames for my paintings, hoping against hope I'll come across a lovely Renaissance tabernacle frame.
What struck me as so funny yesterday was my immediate revulsion upon entering the store. I experience a similar feeling sometimes in antique shops - only then it's a sense that I'm looking at dead people's stuff. Yesterday was different however.
For one thing, the place was packed with customers. I couldn't imagine why so many people were there 'shopping'. The store had a lot of Easter things - used - so would people really buy that stuff, I wondered? Then I recalled ARC advertises on TV as having hidden treasures, therefore I decided that must be it... Except everyone looked poor and rumpled - not one fashionable suburban housewife in sight. I myself had very cool bed hair and a day's growth of beard, and I was dressed in my painting clothes as well - so I imagined I fit in.
Despite management's best efforts to simulate a standard retail store; aisles, counters, clothing racks, and so on - the place is a mess. It also smells. Like old stuff and insecticide.
Oddly enough, I ran into the same two Somali women who are always there when I am, either working or rummaging. They wear what Muslim women from Somalia always wear. They were speaking to a huge, mentally disabled girl, who also may work there, although all three appeared to be shopping yesterday. The girl - young woman - shopped while speaking loudly and clearly to her mother on her cell phone - did I mention really loudly? Just then I imagined I heard Karen Walker calling me, "Oh honey - let's get the hell out of here! These people are freaks!"
I didn't find any frames. Some of the junk I noticed in the store is what I refer to as, "stuff that should never have been manufactured in the first place." Although I did notice two large, signed prints that were quite good landscapes. If I were a dealer I would have snapped them up for resale. While looking at them I smelled alcohol on the breath of a rumpled, crazy looking man who happened to walk by me. I moved on. Strangely enough, I bumped into a little old lady, who seemed to be following me with her empty cart, since no matter where I was in the store, she was there too. She was probably a pick pocket.
I left the store promising myself I'd never return - convincing myself it was because I never find anything decent there anyway. Although, lurking deep within my denial, I was thinking to myself, "The poor are so disgusting."
I think I love the poor and disabled, but I'm really repelled by them when I'm not feeling all pious and kind hearted, or just in a bad mood or preoccupied with my selfish sensuality and self-seeking. I thought to myself, "What if I had to live with these people? What if I had to live with those Somali women, or that retarded girl?!"
See what a sanctimonious, holier than thou, hypocrite-jerk I am?
Every day and every hour, every minute, walk round yourself and
watch yourself, and see that your image is a seemly one. You pass by a
little child, you pass by, spiteful, with ugly words, with wrathful
heart; you may not have noticed the child, but he has seen you, and
your image, unseemly and ignoble, may remain in his defenceless heart.
You don't know it, but you may have sown an evil seed in him and it
may grow, and all because you were not careful before the child,
because you did not foster in yourself a careful, actively
benevolent love. Brothers, love is a teacher; but one must know how to
acquire it, for it is hard to acquire, it is dearly bought, it is
won slowly by long labour. For we must love not only occasionally, for
a moment, but for ever. - Fr. Zosima, Brothers Karamazov