“I love your dress!” came at me like a chant from a cheerleader.
A second voice echoed, “I love your dress!”
I look up to see two joyful women. “Do I know them?” I asked myself.
I didn’t come to Wal-Mart to seek wardrobe affirmation but, having checked out, was looking for my friend who would be checking out about now. I must have walked by the two women without seeing them until one of them put her hand on my arm to slow me down. Her touch seemed to freeze us in time. I barely was aware of the noisy crowd as if the three of us were invisible to them.
The two women were all smiles. “We just saw a butterfly outside!” the first one said. The second woman chimed in, “Just like one of those on your dress.” She pointed out the particular butterfly by touching one on my dress.
“Oh,” I scoffed, “This dress is so old! I bought it when my mother was terminally ill nearly 20 years ago. I saw the dress in a shop window in a mall near the nursing home. My two sisters and I escaped for lunch while Mom was being bathed and put to bed for a nap.” The women nodded empathetically. “The first time I wore this dress was for my mother’s funeral – I wanted to celebrate her new life.”
The first woman began telling me of her mother’s death two years ago and how the mother’s birthday was coming soon. I listened intently to the story of this grieving daughter who a few moments ago was unseen and unknown to me.
“For me, butterflies are symbols of new life, “ I heard myself saying. “Butterflies give us hope. So, when you see a butterfly, think of the new life of your mother.”
The first woman patted me on the arm as a parting gesture, “Thank you! You have helped me so much.”
Time restarted. The noise of the crowd resumed. My friend checked out.
As I drove home, many happy events where I wore the butterfly dress fluttered through my mind: First Holy Communions, Confirmations, birthday parties, wakes, baptisms and more summer Masses and dinners out than I can count. I never tire of wearing it. Now, I felt a wellspring of joy inside me, knowing that my butterfly dress brought these daughters of God a little closer to him on an ordinary day at Wal-Mart.
I realized how God uses everything! Who we are, what we say, and even what we wear can bring hope to others. Everything is His to grow His kingdom – even an old butterfly dress.
How has God surprised you with opportunities to give hope to strangers?
Copyright 2019 Nancy HC Ward