The middle-aged cashier at Thrift World had a piercing through her left eyebrow.  Her brown hair was permed, and her only make-up was a little mascara and eye-liner.  Judging by how her faded pink sweater and jeans fit, she was at least twenty pounds overweight if not more.  She split her attention between the register and the conveyor belt.  She did not look my way.

I smiled and made small talk as she rang up my purchase.  No response.

I noticed her fingernails as she handed me the bag.  They were green and red with white accents.  The left corner of her mouth turned up ever so slightly when I told her I thought her nails looked nice, very Christmas-y.  Then she looked me in the eye, held out my receipt, and wished me a good morning.  I wished her the same and left.

It was my first time to visit this store.  It will most likely be my last as it’s not close to my neighborhood.  Why make such an effort to be kind to a stranger I will never see again?

I am trying to pay more attention to simple gestures shared in fleeting moments like this one because I believe the impulse to make nice is evidence of being under the influence of grace.

“Under the influence of grace” -- the phrase keeps coming to mind.  How do you know when God is at work in your life?  What counts as evidence?  From my perspective the action of grace does not always bring about dramatic life conversions.  (Hopefully that observation is not too disappointing or discouraging for those of you who are seeking quick self improvements.)

Many things seek to influence us -- people, products, causes, ideas.  With so much competing for our attention, is it any wonder that we are not grace-swayed all the time?

I look forward to the day when grace exerts a stronger influence on me.  For now, I will draw encouragement from exchanging pleasantries with strangers.

It is not Peace on Earth, Good Will to All.  It is peace in the moment, good will between two.  And I am deeply grateful.