Category Archives: Small Potatoes and Tuesdays @ the Piggly Wiggly

Back to Oz

I never saw the movie Wizard of Oz until I was a young adult. Not once. Even though the movie was released in theatres long before I was born, it would be shown on TV once a year on Wonderful World of Disney which happened on Sunday nights. But during my growing up years, we went to church—Training Union (we were Baptists) and Sunday night service. Always. No exceptions. I missed seeing the movie in its entirety every year.

Finally, there was a time when I made my own choices about Sunday nights and I vowed to watch this iconic film when it came on. I did. I was so excited—and then scared, especially when the wicked witch threatened sweet Dorothy and her adorable dog. Of course, we only had a black and white TV at the time, so her “greenness” was not apparent. Still, I was intrigued throughout the movie and absorbed its message. 

Dorothy wanted to go home, back to Kansas where she felt like she belonged. But her journey took a magical turn and she ended up in a place too grand to describe. She made new friends along the yellow brick road—experienced new perils, trials, and decisions. But Dorothy learned courage and fortitude and loyalty along the way, and by doing that helped herself and her friends complete their journeys of discovery.

One of the perks of getting older is that I can glance back at my rather lengthy road and see how perils, trials, and decisions placed mile markers of discovery. One epiphany I had while watching the Wizard of Oz movie is that Dorothy and her friends found that what they sought they already had. Security, courage, intelligence, and compassion. These attributes were already built into them, and yet, they had lost their awareness of them. They had fumbled around in fear and disillusionment needlessly. I need (perhaps you do, too) to reacquaint myself and reignite the gifts God gave me instead of continuing down the road in search of something else.

Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12 (The Message).

God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! 

Etched in Stone

Down here in the South, family is really important. That’s why family reunions are often major annual events.

A few summers ago, I went to my family reunion in L.A. (Lower Alabama) held at the “mother church” where there was food (to the tenth power), hugs, kisses, and, for me, reacquaintance with long lost cousins. I felt like I was speed dating when one cousin would sit and talk for a while and then be replaced by another one. This went on for almost a whole afternoon. Before dark, we walked through the headstones of the church cemetery where many of my ancestors are buried. Apparently the cemetery visit was a tradition at this event. Both of my grandparents and some of their children on my father’s side are buried in that cemetery, side by side, of course.

On that journey, I listened to the relatives talking about each aunt, uncle or grandparent as they would stop and say something (kind words, of course) about each one. I began to notice at a point, that some would stop in front of my grandfather’s headstone and smile. Not laugh out loud, but just smile. That was the day, I noticed for the first time the dates on my grandfather’s headstone.  Born June 8, 1898…died September 31, 1956. Wait a minute. September 31? Let’s see “thirty days hath September”…so there was no September 31…a mistake…and that’s what brought the smiles (which I was told would have pleased my jovial grandfather immensely.)

That reminded me that some mistakes are etched in stone, and they never go away. They’re always visible and accuse us every time we see them. However, sometimes etchings are merciful and removable like when the gulf rolls in and sweeps away a message or a castle. Which ones are which? Permanent or wiped clean? Earthly consequences of past errors in judgment and sins can last a long time. But all of our missteps can be forgiven (and even erased) by God’s grace. It’s called redemption.

My mother collected S&H Green Stamps at the Piggly Wiggly. (For those of you in another generation, that’s like bonus points or rewards that one collects with various purchases.) Anyway, the stamps worked just like today’s points in that when you had enough, you could redeem them. In those days, we went to the redemption center where we could turn our books of stamps in to receive “valuable” items such as small appliances, dry goods, and even toys. I was smart enough to figure out that this exchange was trading something of little worth on its own (the stamps) for something of great worth (at least to me). That’s where I learned what this scripture meant. God said,  

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine!” Isaiah 43:1

Small Potatoes and Tuesdays @ the Piggly Wiggly

Small Potatoes and Tuesdays @ the Piggly Wiggly

Several years ago I published a book by this title. It was a memoir that followed a thread of everyday happenings that impacted my life and the profound lessons learned. Today I start a new blog series with the same theme.

Small Potatoes and Tuesdays @ the Piggly Wiggly is subtitled “Discovering the Profound in the Mundane” implying that people, places, and things that seem insignificant (like the adage “small potatoes”) or routine experiences (like Tuesdays at the Piggly Wiggly) are impressions left in wet cement—a mosaic—creating a masterpiece. The canvas on which my life was created originates in a small town in the Deep South of the 1950s and ‘60s. Basically I grew up in Mayberry.

It was a colorful place. The county was dry, which meant no alcohol, and yet there was at least one town drunk, maybe more. There were a few kooks and a few ambitious souls and a lot of hard-working people, but not all. We had some who seemed to have an aversion to work and the rest of us shook our heads when we spoke of them. Women didn’t work outside the home except occasionally as schoolteachers or nurses. Mostly the fathers worked and the mothers stayed home with the children.

On Tuesdays, mamas flooded into the supermarket, The Piggly Wiggly, hoping to find sales on nonperishables and to get double S&H Green Stamps. Those stamps could be collected and exchanged for merchandise such as small appliances, dry goods, and even toys at the redemption center.

On summer days when I was out of school I tagged along with Mama so I could watch the people and marvel at the stamp dispenser that meted out bonuses in long perforated sheets. I’d hear “how-ya-doin’s” and “fine-thank-yous” often in passing, but occasionally we’d stop and “visit” as we call it in the South. During these extended conversations, I usually had the option of absorbing the latest gossip, suffering through the details of Maude’s gallbladder surgery, or excusing myself to the school supplies aisle. Yet always there was something fascinating to learn at “The Pig.”

***

This week millions of students donned academic regalia and walked across some stage to receive some piece of parchment indicating that they have achieved some level of competence in some subject. Congratulations to you all!

This season brought a memory that was also a lesson I learned from the experience.

We went to celebrate the college graduation of our oldest son. The ceremony was held in a large arena and we were to be joined by some other friends and relatives. We stood outside the arena waiting for the others in our party, but sent our youngest son into the venue to try and save some seats so we could all sit together. It didn’t dawn on us that youngest son might be hard to find in the arena that was filling up quickly.

We met the completion of our party and went inside to find youngest son and the seats he had found for us. There were already hundreds of people gathered and we didn’t immediately see the seat-saver. My husband gave a whistle, not loud, but loud enough to be audible to a few. Suddenly a hand went up. It was young son marking his location. That exact sound of the whistle was used to call our sons home when they were out in the neighborhood. They had heard that sound so many times and could identify that it was their father calling them.

It didn’t dawn on me until later. We’ll hear noises every day. Voices. Clatter. Whistling. When I hear God’s call, because I’ve heard it so many times and have learned to trust it, I can get home where I belong.

By the way, you can order the original book from Amazon