Apple for you, miss?”
I am attending a friend’s wedding, and while running errands, I decide the day is passing too quickly. I stroll down to the beachfront. A young boy is selling fruit. He presents a shiny apple from their apple trees and invites me to visit the fruit cart his mother tends.
“I care for apple trees and oranges,” he says with a smile. The woman behind a beautiful fruit cart smiles at me.
“I am Ben. I am named after my father.” I smile and shake his hand after he pronounces my name five times; I break the news to Ben that I am the first in my family named Dixil. At the cart Ben’s mom selects fruit for me.
Ben carries my purchase to the car. As we walk, a snow cone vendor rings a bell and pushes a cart. Ben’s gaze follows the cart. I ask what his favorite flavor is. “Miss, I have never had a snow cone.”
In those words, some of the sweetness of the moment has fallen. I cannot hold the feeling of sadness I have in my hands. Sadness that this young boy who tends to fruit trees and walks to school has never had a snow cone.
* * *
As we run after the snow cone cart, I muse at what the day’s narrative from my guardian angel might sound like: “Then she told Ben they would race to the snow cone cart, and that was all the time he had to decide on a flavor.” God would smile.
Strawberry. That’s his choice, and it’s delicious. I feel the obvious unfold, sitting right next to me. I am my brother’s keeper: a keeper in moments of need, danger, and loss. But what about moments of joy and laughter? In this day, this moment, I have been blessed to share both with Ben. Together we select a snow cone flavor for his mom.
* * *
That evening I share the story with my friends. For our remaining time there, my friends visit, meet Ben, play in the sand, buy fruit, and have a snow cone. Do my friends know at this very moment they are my keepers? Reminding me of how the Holy Spirit intervenes, whispers: be kind, share, laugh, and inspire every day. How many times have I been too busy, or too much in a hurry, that I missed those whispers, the ones reminding us not to let life hurry by, because in those pockets of “hurry” we may find new ways to minister.
* * *
The sun is coming up, and I see the fruit stand. Nobody is here yet. I leave a note for Ben, a thank-you for the friendship he extended to all of us. The corner of my eye catches a brown paper bag: For Dixil.
At a stop sign I open the bag, and two homemade bookmarks and a note fall out. “For the teacher’s books. I will miss you.”—Ben.
A car behind me honks, but I’m in no hurry. I carefully place the bookmarks in my purse. God’s gentle reminder: slow down and take care of one another.
It’s something sweet to run toward.