All I needed was apple cider vinegar for a salad.
Dashing across the grocery store parking lot
and hoping it would be a quick in-and-out
I caught sight of four men standing in a circle
on the sidewalk, facing each other.
Looking more closely, it was clear that
- sure enough -
they were holding hands,
and yes, they were praying.
Truly an unusual sight outdoors
in our neighborhood:
maybe in church,
but certainly not in public
- we are all too sophisticated.
Inside the market,
my anxious feelings about
getting vinegar shifted.
I felt a calm come over me,
I noticed that I was moving very slowly,
feeling less hurried and more patient.
The checkout clerk and I exchanged kind smiles,
I paid for my purchase and left.
The four men were still outside,
now they were lined up in a row,
facing the parking lot.
Soft sounds were coming from
a small music player.
I stood still, and leaned against a pillar
watching, and waiting.
They began to sing.
"Jesus on the main line"....
"Call him up, call him up!"
"He's never too busy,
here's the number...."
Smooth, honey-toned four-part harmonies
were reaching up and out to every passerby,
those oblivious and those pausing
to pay attention.
Steady and contemplative,
the brothers' voices were soft,
perfectly blended, sweetly tuned.
The singers were almost transparent.
They rocked from side to side,
gesturing to accentuate a word here and there.
They did not take much notice of the rest of us.
They stared straight ahead,
over the busy parking lot,
into a distance somewhere beyond.
They were not on stage.
They were at work,
their spiritual work.
I was mesmerized.
The anxiety I had been feeling - gone.
Even the depression
that had been weighing on me
had all but vanished.
What was I doing? Couldn't even remember.
I was just there, or rather, here.
When the singing ended, some people
dropped bills and coins into the donation box.
I said "thank you." I wanted to say more.
But what could I say?
Silence was all that came.
And love, the kind of love
that only eyes can offer.
Who were these men,
dressed in worn-out tee shirts
and tattered shoes?
Short and tall, strong and slight,
musicians and ministers.
Gifted beyond measure.
My mind rushed to fill in the picture:
were they carpenters, teachers, doctors,
fathers, dancers, dreamers?
Who are they?
My mind stopped.
They are Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Michael.
The four archangels
of the Supermarket Sanctuary.
Mary Busby * August 2016