The Divine at the Deli

Being stuck in what felt like the most crowded place on the planet in the middle of Covid-19 might sound like a recipe for high anxiety and total meltdown. So stick with me as I share how it became an opportunity to affirm the power of prayer while standing in the deli.

It was an August afternoon here in Central Florida, and I thought I would pop into the local grocer’s to grab a few things and hopefully get home ahead of the storm that was brewing on the horizon.

It had long been a part of my daily sojourn to find what I call Sabbath moments during the routine of living. I honor the fact that we are always praying, and why not do so wherever we find ourselves? I remember my mother telling me some time ago that my prayer closet is wherever I am; I have the power to make it work.

At that moment, I saw the very best in humanity and in a place that chose to turn itself from a pillar of business into a caring center of prayer at a moment’s notice.

I must say that I had missed the dull hum of the daily commute that allowed me to tune out to tune in. Earlier that same day, I had received a negative Covid-19 test result, and here I was, stuck in a crowded store, riding out a storm.

I stood tall and firm in that spot and began to quietly proclaim the Truth that I knew for myself and those around me. I drifted so far from the moment that I did not hear the clerk call my number. When I snapped out of my Sabbath moment, I smiled and apologized that I had taken a mini prayer break. The person behind replied, “Me too!”

The storm was so severe that trees and power lines were down in the area. Lights were out all around us, and the rainfall was relentless. When the announcement came over the store intercom that no one could leave for a bit, you could feel the change of atmosphere in the building. A group of strangers all of a sudden began pulling together by feeling the pain of the moment, worry, and angst.

Creating Peace in the Storm

Were we scared, worried, and hopeful? Yes, of course. I’d just tested negative for a life-threatening virus and now here I was in a situation that made me more vulnerable to catching it. How long would we be here?

One woman stood up and announced she was a physician and would be glad to help anyone struggling; another person said, “I’m a therapist, and I can help.” Before I knew what was happening, I heard a voice emerge from within me to say, “I am a minister, and I am affirming and holding space for our safety and the same for those who are out in the storm.”

The next thing I knew, 40 or 50 people had joined us and were standing with their heads bowed, eyes closed, or arms open in prayer, right there in the middle of the grocery store. All standard functions in that area ceased, and there was nothing but stillness and peace in the deli.

Time went on. Some prayed, some sang or hummed, some stood in silence, and others honored the act by just being still. At that moment, I saw the very best in humanity and in a place that chose to turn itself from a pillar of business into a caring center of prayer at a moment’s notice.

I am convinced that only the power of prayer can take so many strangers bound by the shared burden of the pandemic, the uncertainty of the storm, and the unquenchable need for personal safety, and turn all of that into a space of light, compassion, and peace amid a storm and the individual storms of life.

I experienced the activity of the Divine in others at the deli. Selah!

Excerpted from The Power of Prayer booklet.

About the Author

Rev. Kathy Beasley is minister at Central Florida Center for Spiritual Living in Orlando and senior manager for the Unity Prayer Ministry.  


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