Angels In Disguise

Last Saturday I went to the local farmers’ market. I follow a plan when shopping there—I walk down one side and back up the other, noting prices and inventory, and sampling the fruits that I am interested in buying. After making one pass, I go around again—this time purchasing the produce that I’ve selected. 
I came prepared this last time—I had borrowed a wheeled shopping cart from a neighbor. It is orange, rather large, sturdy and has a little plaque that says “Angel” on the front.
I stopped at the first fruit stand on my route and sampled some peaches and pluots, wishing that the samples were smaller, and not knowing what to do with the second bite when I didn’t like the first.
As I was walking away, a man loudly asked me if I had enjoyed my breakfast. I turned around and gave him a questioning look. He then said that folks like me who sample and don’t buy are called grazers. I asked him if he worked there, thinking that he was alienating the potential customers at this fruit stand. He said that he worked for the US Department of Produce (obviously fictitious), and his job was to patrol farmers’ markets looking for grazers like myself.
I shrugged and walked away, pushing my orange shopping cart, thinking that the cart surely indicated my intent to buy. I found the incident to be curious, but it did not stir up a lot of indignation or anger.
This encounter is a great example of how we perceive and react from our beliefs and assumptions. Whatever history the man brought to the farmers’ market colored his response to my actions, and brought forth emotions based on his misinterpretation.
How often does this happen to us? Perhaps not at the farmers’ market, but in many other situations. We interpret people’s words and actions based on our unresolved feelings. As we reflect on the recent holiday season, there likely would have been time spent with relatives—stirring up old feelings that we thought we had put to rest.
Some of us experience the “winter blues,” when memories of hurtful times refuse to remain buried. Yet, these bring a gift. Suppressed emotions color our everyday lives and control much of our behavior. We may not be aware that our excessive eating, drinking, working, TV and computer usage are ways of avoiding our feelings. But they often are—to the detriment of our self-confidence, productivity and joy.
When these memories and feelings arise, they do so to be healed. By surrendering them to God, we receive insights and guidance so that we can release them. No one denies that hurtful things happen, though we know that our memories of them have undoubtedly changed over the years. Perhaps we are now mature enough to see them from a different viewpoint--or perhaps not.
Regardless, bringing them into the light of day enables us to identify them and to realize that they have weighed us down throughout the years. You can’t heal what you can’t feel. The idea of feeling the pain is what keeps us stuck. The idea that feeling the pain will destroy us is why we bury it under food, drugs, inappropriate behavior and other avoiding tactics.
Yet, the fear of feeling the pain is always worse than actually feeling it. Take a moment with God, breathing deeply and allowing your belly to relax. In this moment, surrender the pain and the person who inflicted the pain into God’s care and keeping. Pray for that person. Know that pain begets pain. Listen for the still, small voice of Spirit and find the gratitude that comes from being free from the past.
It is natural to be healed. Your body and spirit are designed to heal. Identifying and freeing trapped memories can bring a shift—the world looks and feels different. Your body feels different. You release judgment of other people in your life—and of yourself. You begin to thrive and prosper. You notice the signs of Angels everywhere you look.
So, when a stranger brings a message, look wide, look deep. He just might be guiding you into a more healed, joyous life!
Peace be with you,
Rev. Carla