I wear it everywhere I go, hoping - praying, it will somehow speak when the innate shyness and timidity leave me tongue-tied.
It is easy to be bold with words written or shared within the sheltered community that is my comfort zone. It is another matter entirely when I step out into the world.
I didn't notice her until she picked up the one apple that sent the others cascading to the floor. I picked them up before she had a chance to get to them and walked over to put them back in place.
"I have arthritis so bad in my shoulder. I have had it for forty years, and they say they can't do anything about it. I'm too old."
I looked into her sweet face and saw her smile. She was tiny, hair pulled back into a bun, wire-rimmed glasses and dressed up as women of her generation tend to do. Thinking back, I can't remember exactly what she was wearing. I was captivated by her face and softly accented voice.
We talked about pain medication and natural remedies for a minute or two, then continued our separate journeys through the labyrinth that makes up the huge Commissary.
Our paths crossed again in the aisle lined with cereals, granola bars, spices, beans and a dozen other products of varying colors and sizes.
"I'm going to forget bread crumbs again. I can never find them. There are so many things I just get confused." The beautiful smile again as she shook her head at her own forgetfulness.
"It's right here - at the end of the aisle."
We walked the distance to the bread crumb section together. The round containers were high up on the top shelf.
"Shall I get it for you? Oh - look; here is one with a coupon."
We stood together deciding on plain or Italian and feeling pleased at finding a bargain.
"It's big, and it's just me. But my son comes to visit. I'm 87 years old. My husband died twenty years ago."
I listened as she told me about a medical scare she experienced a while ago. She had to be hospitalized, and the doctors couldn't find out what was wrong.
"I'm fine now, but sometimes I worry..." Her words trailed off.
I can't remember what I said; tried to find words to encourage. Then turned to get the can of beans my husband had requested.
"Caroline. My name is Caroline."
"I'm Linda. I'm so glad to meet you."
"Thank you for helping me."
She continued on her way. I only caught one more glimpse of her in the bread aisle.
I thought about her on the way home. Caroline. The same age as my Mom; living all alone. Why didn't I say more? Why didn't I offer to pray with her - for her.
Oh Father I have so much, and I gave so little. Please help me to be bold for You. How can I withhold something so precious? Could You, in some way, use this encounter to bless Caroline?