So he said, “Write it on a paper,” and turned about his business.
To his surprise, the women plucked a piece of paper out of her bosom and handed it to him over the counter and said, “I did that during the night watching over my sick baby.”
The grocer took the paper before he could recover his surprise, and then regretted having done so! For what would he do with it; what could he say?
Then an idea suddenly came to him. He placed the paper, without even reading the prayer upon it, on the weight side of his old-fashioned scales. Picking up a loaf of bread nearby, he said, “We shall see how much this food is worth.”
To his astonishment the scale would not go down when he laid the loaf on the other side. To his confusion and embarrassment, it would not go down though he kept on adding more food, anything he could lay his hands on quickly, for people were watching him.
He tried to be gruff and he was making a bad job of it. His face got red and he felt flustered. So finally he said, “Well, that’s all the scales will hold anyway. Here’s a bag. You’ll have to put it in yourself. I’m busy.”
With what sounded like a gasp or a little sob, she took the bag and started packing the food, wiping her eyes on her sleeves every time her arm was free to do so. He tried not to look, but he could not help seeing that he had given her a pretty big bag and that it was not full when she had finished. So without saying anything, he tossed down the counter to her several expensive items. Trying not to notice, he saw a timid smile of grateful understanding glistening in her eyes.
When the woman was gone, he went to look at the scales, scratching his head and shaking the scales in puzzlement. Then he found the solution. When the paper had been placed on it, the scales had been broken.
That grocer is an old man now. His hair is white. But he has never forgotten the incident. He never saw the woman again. And, come to think of it, he had never seen her before either. Yet, for the rest of his life, he remembered her better than any other customer he ever had.
And he knew it had not been just his imagination, for he still had the slip of paper upon which the woman’s prayer had been written, “Please, Lord, give us this day our daily bread.”
Used by permission. Taken from the book Shelter in the Storm. Available from Harvestime Books, Altamont, TN 37301.