“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. —J.K. Rowling
One day while shopping at our favorite international farmers market, Eliot grabbed my hand and led me to the chocolate and candy aisle where a woman wearing a hijab stood, expecting me.
“She wants to give you one!” shouted Eliot as he pointed to her purple head covering.
Because he’d told her how beautiful she was, she offered a most beautiful gift to his mother, whom she’d just met. She told me to come back for my very own hijab the next week. On a Wednesday afternoon, I stopped by the market for fresh salmon and asparagus and there she was–stocking the shelves with chocolates.
We did not know each other’s names, only faces. I apologized for not coming sooner, and she led me to the back of the store. She had been keeping two hijabs in her locker waiting for me.
“We cannot tell the managers. We cannot give gifts to customers, you see?” she said with a twinkle in her eye and a smile. She told me discreetly to wait by the assorted rice, and came back a moment later with a small gray plastic bag.
“You choose. Purple or blue with this bracelet.”
I looked up at her shining face and said I’d love the blue one. We embraced, and she sent love to my little one who first introduced us through his aesthetic eye–his gift for finding beauty in the smallest and unexpected ways.
Before I drove home, I took it out of the bag and put it over my pulled-up hair and bangle earrings. I put it on and wondered what discrimination a hijab-wearing woman might endure in our culture.
I looked at the cars next to me at the stoplight and wondered what they thought, if anything. And I looked at myself in the mirror and saw how different my face was with this beautiful veil of blue around my neck and hair.
But more than that, I wondered at the God-given kindness of this elderly woman to gift me a hijab and send me off as her new friend, some sort of invisible goodness tethering us to each other and to the Kingdom of God through the beauty-loving eye of my four-year-old son.
We wonder so much about God, about humanity, about whether our everyday experiences mean something. What matters and what is dust in the wind? Do our little moments of joy or pleasure, our pings of grief and stress, mean anything on the Kingdom level?
Absolutely. Our moments matter because our humanity matters, and if we can’t find it in the chocolate aisle or by the assorted rice in the middle of our local marketplace, we will have a hard time finding it anywhere.
Excerpted from Glory Happening: Finding the Divine in Everyday Places by Kaitlin B. Curtice