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Patti Kadick: To be restored

I love my Thursday afternoons at the Habitat for Humanity “restore store.” Beautiful mission. Beautiful people: a managing staff workers usually only get to dream of.

Some weeks ago manning the register became my task for those four hours. Being mostly literate in words — not numbers — any register can seem a scary assignment. All went pretty well for a few Thursdays. Particularly since shopping there can be an adventure — a time for creative looking as well as good deals for building, and yes restoring homes, so customers are generally upbeat.

Even before volunteering, my home became delightfully cluttered as a result of my creative shops there.

Yet a few weeks ago, a busy afternoon at the store stretched me tight. Catawba College had donated a wonderful collection of furniture from their warehouse; displayed outside, the yard sale feel took over. Including urgent customer line ups, without interruption. Some, not in line, throwing questions.

Fortunately, as I mentioned the managing staff is patient, wonderful. Fun. And often at my elbow that day. Still it got tense. I got tense and made lots of mistakes. Don’t recall how many register transactions we caught that had to be voided. Went home a bit discouraged. And worn out.

The following Thursday morning, sitting in my sweet backyard prayer-nook, I took a mental stand: a repeat would not be appropriate. Not God’s plan. After all, if God is love divine, infinite everywhere, could His/Her loving presence miss a spot…

As I got quiet, my prayer became, “Just let me be kind, generous.’’ Interesting since wouldn’t it have made sense to plea, “don’t let me make mistakes,’’ or “let every customer be pleasant.’’ But no, all I could feel was “Just let me be kind.’’ That feeling never left. I felt the sweet calm all afternoon that only comes from a Divine presence. And went home rejuvenated, with a little glow maybe.

Myself restored?

When being kind comes naturally — not with the “Oh, I better be nice,’’ something we’ve all done — what a lovely humbling effect.

Yet this experience also made me think of James’s epistle, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss…” Had I so often asked amiss — seeking my comfort alone?

And this sentence from a favorite go-to book came to mind: “That which we desire and for which we ask, it is not always best for us to receive.” Pondering the idea of being consistently, genuinely kind sure has had a more lasting effect on me than just yearning to be alert, hoping people won’t be hurried but pleasant and patient. Praying for no mistakes would be a good idea too, yet taking in kindness, I’m now convinced, provided a deeper peace for everyone. At the same time taking off the “me me me’’ motive of my prayer. Remembering that it is possible because God, love divine enables us, wherever we are.

That go-to book, by the way, is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy — a 19th century theologian and spiritual healer; founder of the Christian Science religious movement (not to be confused with Scientology).

And this, from another of Eddy’s writings, seems a perfect topping here: “True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us.”

Patti Kadick lives in Salisbury.

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