“I’m not actually in the line, sir,” he said with a smile framed beautifully on the topside by a well-trimmed, white mustache that matched exactly in tone and texture his full, snowy head of hair above.
“I’m just waiting on my wife,” he invoked, pointing to her at the cash register, as our eyes locked in a mutual, knowing, male, geriatric glance.
“I understand and know exactly what you mean,” I said. “I have spent a good deal of time doing the same thing. But” I quickly added, “if she’s like my wife, she is well worth the wait.”
“Oh, yes, indeed!” my slightly older, newfound brother intoned.
And then he said it: “You know, Tuesday is the highlight of her week!”
I just had to respond: “Oh yeah, how’s that?”
“Thirty percent off at Goodwill,” he proudly replied, “every Tuesday!”
By now, our souls were connected by an unbreakable, yet still spontaneous, reciprocal conversation. So, I inquired, “Lived in Georgetown for a long time?”
“Oh yeah, my parents, grandparents and I moved here from San Antonio in 1948 — when I was eight years old.”
I so wanted to redirect the talking and inform him that, just outside the front door, I was driving a 1940 Chevrolet Special Deluxe “survivor vehicle,” with just under 44,000 miles on its odometer. This stately gentleman and my beloved vehicle were conceived and born in the very same year, fully 82 years ago. But I constrained myself, fearing he might not be a car enthusiast and also because I could not get away from his unsolicited description of today — 30% off Tuesday — as his wife’s “highlight of the week.”
Notwithstanding the reality that I could genuinely appreciate anyone who views a weekly 30% discount as a reality that should properly be marked as a highlight, I began in earnest to ruminate to myself. I asked the person inside my head and my heart what I might tag as my week’s highlight.
Today, it easily could have been when 5-year-old Harris and almost-3-year-old Fisher climbed into bed with me at 6:15 a.m., because they were still sleepy and didn’t want to get up yet. Or maybe it was what happened moments later, when their Papa began to wrestle with the sleepyheads and tickle those two luscious lumps of protoplasm. Maybe it was after breakfast, when we three went outside and resumed our “real baseball” practice at the T-ball stand.
“I asked the person inside my head and my heart what I might tag as my week’s highlight.”
Checking out of the store, climbing aboard that ’40 Chevy, and motoring down Williams Drive in Georgetown, Texas, I commenced to cogitate and contemplate the candidates for my personal weekly highlight. Although a 30% discount is way up there, it occurred to me, with gratitude, that there are many other regularly scheduled and spontaneous events that compete for the coveted title of highlight in my life.
Frankly, most any morning qualifies as a highlight, when Janice comes waltzing through the bedroom door with her trademark and authentic smile, usually a couple of hours since my grumpy feet have hit the unwelcome floor and my bodily aches have made their ubiquitous presence known. Without a doubt, that is always a highlight for me.
On a good day, it’s when I am in worship, at home or in the sanctuary, with or without the sermonizing by me or some other person; that can be and often is a highlight. When I sit at a table or on a couch with long-term friends, or when I smell the fresh-cut grass in my own backyard, or when I sit at my desk in my study and ponder a profound truth, or when I look up at a full moon — these are undoubtedly in the running for the highlights of my week.
As soon as someone gives a genuine hug, my highlight-hunting passport is stamped. When the wheels of the big plane touch down in Greece, or another international destination, that is a highlight. When the rental car takes me around a previously unexplored bend, on the “wrong” side of the road in some tiny county in Great Britain, I enter the highlight zone. Oh, I am so fortunate to have so many days that most assuredly classify as highlights.
Certainly, there are days that should, by all that is right and fair, be classified as lowlights. Indeed, there are days when the apparent illumination is so low that there appears to be no evidence of any light at all. On these days, you and I will settle for any indication of light of any kind.
But, on the other hand, every one of us has been blessed to have been created with the innate capacity to experience wonder, joy, delight and amazement that qualifies as a splendid incarnation of a human highlight. Sometimes lights, high or low, are reserved for the earnest seeker and can best be discovered only in the cracks.
When I meet my Maker, I must remember to thank the Almighty, not just for the highlights, but for making me, my loved ones and every one of us with the inspired potential for light in any quantity or quality. And yes, I’ll express my deepest gratitude for those lights that are authentically high.
Will you join me in celebrating yours today?
Bob Newell has served as a university professor and administrator, a local church pastor and a cross-cultural missionary. He and his wife, Janice, now live in Georgetown, Texas, and he serves churches as transition coach and intentional interim pastor. They were the founders and remain advocates of PORTA, the Albania House in Athens, Greece.
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