Sunday, February 20, 2011

Salve for my soul

My lips are sunburned.

I push that thought to the back of my mind because I'm in church at the Island in the Son United Methodist Church on Mustang Island (in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Texas) and I need to focus on the Lord. And I need to be kind to the friends who brought us here by being polite. Being proper. Church-lady like.

I'm smiling, singing and worshiping, but my lips are so sunburned, I'm feeling the pain of each grin and all those Amens.

And I can't stand it any longer. Because I'm also hot and there's no air in here. My lips hurt.

So at the start of the next song, I decide to be kind to myself and sneak out the back (I'm in the back row anyway), run out to the car and grab my Carmex Moisturizing Lip Balm for relief.

OK. Go.

I scoot out unnoticed (so I think) and scurry to my car, where I swing open the door and find my purse. With my back to the world and my mind on my pain, I plow through the purse contents until I find my treasure, my little yellow tube of pain relief.

I unscrew the lid and before I even stand up, I smear the analgesic elixir way beyond the confines of my lips. I don't care how I look. I'm finding relief. I'm being kind to myself.

I straighten up as I turn around and a young woman is standing there, thrusting a gallon jug of frozen water at me.
A gallon-sized ice cube.

She's smiling at me. And she says, "Here, hold this. It'll really cool you down. You can even just sit there in church with it on your lap and it'll feel great."

I must have cocked my head or in some way looked incredulous because she explains  she noticed me fanning myself in church, then saw me leave in a hurry. So she figured I was too hot. And she wanted to help. To extend a hand. To be a good Samaritan.

I realize I just received a kindness.

I take the jug briefly and thank her profusely, and assure her I'm OK. The problem is my lips, I say, not my temperature. And we walk back into the church together, where another woman comes to me and lays a gentle hand on my shoulder. "Are you OK, honey?" she whispers.

Oh my. I just got another kindness.

Yes, I tell her. I'm more than fine. I'm full up with kindnesses.

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