A Curse and a Blessing: Case Study

Five minutes before the supermarket closed, we discovered the six-pack of tonic water was leaking. Tired and hungry, yet not wanting to push off the chore of returning the soda til the next day (especially with the leak), we rushed out to the car and drove back to the store.

The car's not-too-accurate clock read 9:59pm as I dashed out of the car to the supermarket doors, holding receipt and six-pack, but a harsh voice stopped me. The man rounding up the last of the shopping carts snapped that it was 10 o'clock, and "that's it" (accompanied by a cold, quick wave of his hand). My stammered "But I just want to return this---" was interrupted immediately with more sharp, adamant, angry words - plus a cutting glare.

I am particularly aware of emotional/psychic assaults. This was one of them. When I say "sharp" or "cutting," I really mean that. The words, tone, and expression were combined with a psychic punch in the face - or, more aptly, a psychic stab to the chest. The energy behind the physical display is a hurtful energy that cuts into people and disrupts them. It is a real attack.

On top of this, I was thinking: aren't stores supposed to care about their customers, especially when the customer is returning to the store for something that's the store's fault? Instead of an apology and a replacement, I'd gotten verbally (and psychically) attacked!

Now ... I know the feeling of a worker who wants to get home from a commercial establishment like a store; I've been there. The man's reply had been born of frustration, bitterness, anger, and probably hatred of those pesky stupid customers who kept leaving carts in dumb places and trying to delay the closing of the store. He'd probably dealt with pushy people before. He'd probably been late getting home before. And so he'd learned to wound people to keep them under control and thus away from the doors.

But suppose, instead of beating down those who threatened whatever it was he was defending, he'd just taken the little extra time and effort to do what a woman leaving the store did?

This particular woman leaving the store stopped to ask me what I needed. I explained about the six-pack, and then she brilliantly suggested I try a different supermarket of the same chain that was open longer --- and then gave me some different addresses to choose from. Though not exactly warm in manner, she had taken the time to suggest helpful ideas. She had tried to help a stranger! I thanked her and left; meanwhile, the man with the carts was shouting at some other poor guy running desperately across the parking lot toward the supermarket's doors....

I was determined to resolve the whole annoying issue as soon as possible. It was already bothering me; it would continue to bother me.

We drove off toward a different supermarket. I kept trying to shake the anger I felt at the man. I tried blessing him, and praying to God. I could almost feel calm and compassionate. But yet I could perceive ragged gashes(wounds) in my aura, and guessed I still had bits of black psychic debris stuck all over me like the remnants of shrapnel. Also, red traffic lights were bringing me close to rage (unusual for me), so I knew I was inwardly still hurt and upset. (The traffic stops were particularly galling, for they made me think: why did we have to go out of our way to rectify the store's mistake, anyway?)

I realized it would help to vent some frustrations at someone, but there wasn't any appropriate person around ... and I am not yet good enough at perceiving God to vent at God and have that suffice.

No, I am not perfect. I know this. I can't make hurts go away instantly; I can't forgive instantly at an emotional/subconscious level; I can't turn the other cheek gracefully yet. I still feel human emotions, and I still feel human pain. Thinking on this, I had sudden sympathy for all people who are hurt (mentally, physically, psychically) by others --- but who lack even the limited coping tools I have.

(Hmm, maybe it's not so terrible to be imperfect and hurtable. Maybe it keeps me humble and sympathetic to others.)

...We arrived at the other supermarket; I had been praying the whole way there. When the slightly-harried-looking woman behind the customer service counter said she could help with the situation, I felt a great wave of relief. I could resolve the whole thing in one night, and not have to sleep on the irritation! The woman told us to get a replacement six-pack of tonic water, which we did. And as we brought it back, I blurted out to her that I'd been rather rudely treated at the other store.

She smiled and said, in a warm motherly tone, "Now, that's not how to treat a customer!" Then she added, as she gave us the new six-pack of soda, "They just probably wanted to get home."

I was in awe, at this point. Her warm, calm acknowledgment of unjust harm done had relieved the intense pressure of hurt and wrong (and after all, here was a higher-ranked supermarket employee apologizing on behalf of the company); but more than that, her motherly voice, sort of with a "tsk-tsk they should know better" air, reduced the insult - in fact, shrank it down - to something common and manageable, like a silly act done by an errant child who ought to be forgiven for his mistakes.

And her second comment seemed to me an attempt to build a bridge of understanding and sympathy from the victim to the perpetrator - a step toward both greater wisdom and healing. (Though it's a form of healing, I gotta say, that comes especially easily after an earnest apology, and not before!)

"Have a good night," she called after us, and I almost said, "Yes, I will, thanks to you!"

How vast the gulf between curses and blessings. How much curses hurt; how much they encourage more anger and bitterness and hatred. They tear and rend and destroy: even the littlest curses, like the one in this story. Those who cannot perceive curses clearly may not see their terrible effects, but from all I have seen, they are born of darkness and spread darkness, and are a stumbling block to all.

And how powerful a blessing is, that can destroy the curse, heal over the hurt, and teach at the same time. How magnificent; how much does it spread joy and peace to others! Blessings build up and strengthen and increase understanding and sympathy: even little ones, like the ones in this story. Those who cannot perceive blessings clearly may not see their wonderful effects, but from all I have seen, they are born of Light and bring Light, and are of benefit to all.

...And finally, God can turn curses into blessings, though not always will the timeframe be so convenient....

God, I pray that I may cease cursing others, intentionally or not, and that I may instead become a source of blessings, big and small.