I was at my local health food store recently and asked for some help from one of the employees. I had seen this gal at the store quite a few times but never really had a conversation with her. I was looking for a supplement and she offered me the regular formulation or the vegetarian formula. I guess I looked puzzled, so she informed me that the regular capsules were made from HORSE HOOVES. REALLY? I told her I’d take the vegetarian formula, since I “flipped” to vegetarian two years ago during a nutrition cleanse and have enjoyed my “vegetarianism” ever since.
I saw her heavy heart right away. She (let’s call her Susan) told me that she had been a vegetarian for about 20 years and that in the last year, she had added some chicken back into her diet. But I could see how torn she was—almost tortured (not to be dramatic, but I felt that she was). I felt guided to convey to her my belief that some animals willingly give their lives for our sustinance and that if they are raised and slaughtered humanely, that she could consider letting go of some of her guilt around eating animals. Susan looked like she was going to cry, and then her eyes got really big and she uttered “Why are you saying this? Where is this coming from?” I just smiled. She continued, “No really, where is this coming from? What religion are you?” I paused, took a breath and asked, “Are you trying to put me in a box?” Then she looked like she was going to faint….
Susan proceeded to tell me that when she was a little girl, she had such a zest for life, she loved to play outdoors and that her home surrounded by beautiful woods and a stream. As her home was secluded, she would enjoy many hours in nature noticing the wildlife around their property. (She paused and said that she never shares this story.) She said when she turned five and went to school, and was forced to draw inside the lines, nap at “nap time” even if she wasn’t tired, move about in a line of children and eat when she wasn’t hungry. But all she wanted to do was go outside and commune with her beloved Nature. (I was right there with her and I could feel her losing touch with her soul and joy….) She recalled the small schoolroom…the four walls…and feeling like she was in a BOX…. She remembered feeling delighted when, after naptime, it was time for recess! She eagerly lined up. The teacher opened the door and let them out one by one, and as Susan escaped outside, she was instructed her to go play in the small sandbox. Another BOX.
I don’t know exactly what happened that day at the health food store, but I did feel the “unmistakable touch of Grace” as Cheryl Richardson calls it. I felt like something shifted, perhaps healed, for my soul sister whose name I did not even know.
As I left the store, Marianne Williamson’s wonderful words came into my mind: “Use me, dear Lord, that I may know the joy of being used by You.”