Finding God at Walgreens

In this tranquil corner of northwestern Connecticut, a trip to Walgreens is largely calm and uneventful yet, when I arrived for my COVID booster vaccine, I was met with sheer chaos. The pharmacy was short-staffed, causing long lines of people, some having waited for over an hour. There was a mother with a daughter who looked terribly sick. There was a big guy bellowing about how he ran away at fifteen years old and was told never to come back. For that reason, he believes in tough love. That turned into a very loud diatribe on kids today and the failure of today’s parents. Some customers agreed, and some didn’t. People felt free to share their opinions.

I was told where to stand in line for the vaccine by a tough-looking, but kind-hearted customer—it wasn’t at all obvious since the window with the sign “Sign-in here for COVID vaccine” was apparently not the place to sign in. Customers were frustrated, and the pharmacy staff was stressed. Eventually, I was checked in for my vaccine and told to wait behind a free-standing screen to get my shot. On the other side of the screen was the guy who ran away at fifteen, yelling advice into his phone about going to the junkyard to pick up a radiator.

Once seated behind the screen, I was thinking about something the mystics taught: repeating the name of God has an extraordinary power that goes beyond our imagining, so I decided to give it a try. What did I have to lose? I did not ask God for anything. I simply began to softly chant aloud the opening lines of the Lord’s prayer, in Aramaic. By the third round of chanting, I wept at the profundity of the divine Love that surrounded us all. Then, as if from a trance, I heard someone call my name. I peeked out from behind the screen to find that most of the customers had been helped, a calm had settled over the melee and no one was calling my name. Moments later, someone appeared to give me my booster. She suggested I stay for fifteen minutes to make sure I didn’t have a reaction. I left immediately knowing that my presence was no longer needed.

Find the name of God that resonates with you. It could be God, Love, Compassion, Yahweh, Abwoon, Allah, Allaha, Ram, Krishna, Buddha, etc. What I find is that chanting one name may carry no resonance for me while another causes me to weep. Find the name that brings tears to your eyes when chanted. Repeat it to yourself silently or, if the situation allows, out loud. Let God determine what needs to be done, if anything at all. Additionally, try chanting your chosen name of God for no reason at all. I tried this the day after my Walgreens experience, using a different name for God, and began to weep all over again. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying this exercise.

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