This afternoon, I had to run a quick community errand at the grocery store. When I drove into the parking lot, a large sign informed me that it was “Customer Appreciation Day.” It was definitely an Event with a Capital E – live music on the front walk, a parking lot tent, a clown…
When I entered the store, I was greeted with punch, cake and an announcement that it was time for something called a “Lucky Number Cake Walk.” Customers were to search for and then stand beside specially numbered signs, and the ‘lucky numbers’ would win a cake. Caught up in the spirit of cake and music and clowns, I wandered around with my cake and punch looking for numbers, surprising myself at how disappointed I was that each number I found already had a shopper beside it. Several minutes later, when it became sadly apparent that I wouldn’t be bringing a free cake back to the monastery, I finished my punch and cake and tried to remember what, exactly, it was that I had come for. It took me a moment.
Driving home, I felt a little chagrined at how easily I had gotten totally off track from my errand. I did, though, feel appreciated. Or something. At any rate, I was very aware of the extent of the store’s effort to thank their customers. Sure, there was some marketing involved. But in a town this small, I knew there was also genuine appreciation at play. As I drove, I wondered – how do I show appreciation? How well do I express gratitude? It doesn’t take an Event with a Capital E. Clowns and cake aren’t necessary. It just takes an awareness of how much our lives are touched by those around us, and making the effort to express our thanks.
So perhaps this is a good time to say “thanks” to all who read this blog about life in our monastic community. Even though I don’t know exactly who you are, I am aware of the presence of readers. I can’t offer you cake and punch. I’ve no clowns or balloons. But this is a small town. My appreciation in genuine. So let me say “Thank you” – with a Capital T.