GUEST COLUMN: What should really matter

The holidays are supposed to be a time to celebrate love for your family, neighbors, even strangers. Take one look at the news and the headlines seem to only remind of us of the greed, gluttony and utter chaos the holidays can bring.
Dec 22, 2013

The stories highlighting this year’s Black Friday madness were frightening. People were injured while shopping. I will say it again: People were injured while shopping! That is a disgusting display of human insanity — for what? An XBOX?

Thus, I cherish the moments that reinstill my faith in humanity, especially during the holidays.

I was doing my fair share of shopping the other Monday, contributing to the consumer-craze myself (I never claimed to have risen above it), and something sad happened. I was deciding which shoes to spend too much money on, when a small group of customers began to gather several feet away. My curious nature always gets the best of me, so I scurried over to see what the commotion was. 

I stood a ways outside the circle, but I could clearly see someone laying on the ground in the middle. It was an old woman who had fallen and wasn’t breathing.

Frantically, people wondered if anyone could administer CPR, as there was no security or EMTs on the scene yet. Two women knelt down, one giving chest compressions and the other mouth-to-mouth to the old woman. After several minutes, the women checked for a pulse, and sadly there was not.

At this point there were about eight people surrounding the old woman; all unsure of what should be done, but clearly wanting to do something. Security and an ambulance had been called and everyone was waiting. 

I was still a few feet away, not wanting to be a burden, when I heard one customer say, “Well, why don’t we pray.”

And they did. One person spoke quietly, sending thoughts and prayers of recovery and peace and love to the woman; while the other customers listened and, I assume, shared the same healing thoughts.

There in the store, surrounding the old woman, eight strangers prayed together.

I left just as the EMTs were arriving, so I don’t know for sure what happened to the woman. I was saddened by what I think may have been the outcome. It was something I am not used to seeing.

It was a sad situation. Although it haunted with me all week, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of peace with my fellow humans. After reading about a week of chaotic behavior and selfish greed, these strangers had restored my faith in humanity. They shared their love and companionship the best way they knew how. They openly and consciously prayed for the well-being of the old woman. 

They were complete strangers that stood for a half-hour out of their day and agreed to combine their prayers for the woman.

Whether you're religious or spiritual or not is not the point of this story. The point is that humans have love to give. They surprise you. They make mistakes, but they are compassionate beings.

Although this is a sad story, there is beauty in it, too. People really do share their love and their hearts with others. So, this holiday season, try not to get so caught up in the consumer industry that it has become and focus on what really matters — love.

— By Lauren Mallas, a freelance writer who lives in Grand Rapids. Her parents are Spring Lake residents.

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