Tuesday, March 9, 2010

the Grocer and the Nail

He was an immigrant who had arrived in New York with fifty dollars, the obligatory deposit to the steamship company that brought him to our shores. After much work he fulfilled his dream of opening a small grocery store which he insisted was a delicatessen… a throw back to his native Germany where the root word signifies “gourmet”.

His bookkeeping involved a long nail on a lead base. When someone couldn’t pay their bill he simply asked them to sign the adding machine slip because the cash register did not do math and so the groceries had to be tallied on a separate device. Most of these bills were paid soon enough, but some lingered at the bottom of the nail until they yellowed and crumbled. Every once in awhile the grocer looked at the ragged papers and said, “Look at the money I didn’t get.”

Many years after he retired to his native Germany, he became ill and left for his new and eternal home. What follows is my imagination but I am sure it is true in its basic concepts.

As the grocer approached the gates of heaven an angel handed him an envelope. It was sealed but said in bold golden letters: Admission.

When he met the Lord, the angel signed that he should hand over his envelope. As the Lord and judge opened it, out fell many, many, ragged and yellowed cash register receipts. Jesus smiled and told the grocer how much he had enjoyed the food, candy and paper goods that those pieces represented, for they were really given to the One who counts all loving acts as done to himself.