Giv­ing is a way for grace to fill us

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - Sharon Ran­dall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Hen­der­son, Nev. 89077, or on her web­site: sharon­ran­

When I run to the mar­ket for just one thing, I never know what I’ll bring back.

Last night, for ex­am­ple, I wanted to make pesto.

I love pesto. It’s good. It’s green. It’s easy. And my half-Ital­ian hus­band loves it even more than I do. I’ve seen blood­hounds get less ex­cited chas­ing a rab­bit than he does over a plate of pasta with pesto.

I had every­thing I needed to make it … ex­cept wal­nuts.

Most peo­ple use pine nuts for pesto. To me, pine nuts taste like kerosene. Not that I’ve tasted kerosene. I just pre­fer wal­nuts. But all I had were Brazil nuts.

They might work. Or not. I can’t tell you how of­ten I’ve sub­sti­tuted in­gre­di­ents that “might work” but didn’t. If cook­ing chan­nels did a show called Recipes for Dis­as­ter, I could be their celebrity chef.

So I made a quick trip to the mar­ket for wal­nuts. At least, I hoped it would be quick. I was hun­gry, and the tem­per­a­ture in my car — I am not mak­ing this up — reg­is­tered 121 de­grees.

I parked as close as pos­si­ble and sprinted to the store. The pave­ment felt mushy. The shop­ping cart burned my hands. (Carts are good to lean on, even if you’re only buy­ing one thing.) And when the air con­di­tion­ing hit my face, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

At first, I couldn’t re­call why I was there, so I stuck my head in a freezer be­tween two tubs of ice cream un­til it hit me: Wal­nuts. Where were they? I’d have to search ev­ery

aisle to find them.

Do you think gro­cery stores move stuff around just to get us to buy things we don’t need? My cart was half full by the time I got to the sun­flow­ers. They were huge. And they were on sale.

I grabbed the big­gest bunch and headed for the check-out line. Then some­thing made me go back for an­other bunch.

Load­ing the gro­ceries in my car, I heard a voice call, “Miss?”

I looked up and saw an el­derly woman, frail as a fallen leaf, lean­ing on a cart filled with packs of bot­tled water.

“I’m sorry. Can you help me?” she said. “I can’t lift these.”

It’s not easy to ask for help. One Christ­mas, long ago, my step­fa­ther was out of work and some good peo­ple from

church brought us a food bas­ket. Af­ter they left, my mother said, “It’s hard to take help. But re­mem­ber how it feels. Be­cause one day you will do the giv­ing.”

Those words took on a deeper mean­ing for me last sum­mer when I broke my an­kle and spent months in a wheel­chair. Be­ing able to help some­one is a gift, es­pe­cially for the giver.

The water bot­tles seemed weight­less. I felt like Won­der Woman. Then, get­ting in my car to leave, I saw the sun­flow­ers.

“Wait!” I called to the woman. She stopped and I ran over to hand her one of the bunches.

“Oh!” she said, “I can’t take your beau­ti­ful flow­ers!”

“Sure you can,” I said. “I have two bunches. This one’s yours.”

She laughed and thanked me again. I drove home grin­ning like a mule eat­ing bri­ers. Then I made pesto pasta. We ate it all. It was good.

Yes, I for­got to buy wal­nuts, but Brazil nuts worked just fine.

Some­times it seems we’re al­ways in need of some­thing, al­ways search­ing for that one miss­ing in­gre­di­ent that will make every­thing taste all right.

But one day, if we’re lucky, we will hear with our hearts, more than with our ears, a quiet plea for help. And it will re­mind us of what we so of­ten for­get: That we are whole. Our needs are met. We have all that we need.

There’s more than one way to make pesto. And there’s al­ways a way to re­pay, day by day, a lit­tle of the bound­less grace that we’ve been given.

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