The other day I ventured out to Lowe’s. I was in the middle of planting my summer annuals when I decided I needed a large flower container for my patio.

I went fairly early, so it didn’t feel too crowded at first, but as time went on, more and more people were shopping. What was I thinking? It was Sunday. Churches are still closed for the most part, so what are many of us doing? Focusing on our outdoor landscaping and space.

As I approached the garden store part of Lowe’s, I noticed many people had masks, but several also bared their faces. I thought to myself, I know what side they are on.

For the most part, I stayed 6 feet apart, and if I noticed someone getting too close, I chose another aisle.

I found some beautiful containers along the wall. The ones I liked were a light aqua color in freeze-resistant hard plastic. The color was perfect as I have a small bistro table set made of multicolored broken tiles, and one of the colors is that light aqua. Perfect! The pot came in various sizes, and I was trying to decide between the 18-inch and the 24-inch container. A woman was standing next to the containers, and I said hello and asked what size she thought was best.

But something shifted my focus from the conversation about the pot. This woman did not have a mask on. So, as we talked about the plant containers, my mind went to Sure. I know what side she is on and whose example she is following. But she is just another person dealing with all of this. Yet I’m feeling angry that I have to wear this double-layered mask with a paper towel inside. My nose is running, and I can barely breathe, but I’m right, and she is wrong.

I continued to look at the pot, and she suggested, “Just buy them both and see which one works the best. Bring the other one back. That’s what I do when I can’t decide.”

“Good idea.” I thought.

Then I am not sure how the conversation changed, but I might have said, “I see you are not wearing a mask.” And that started it. She said, “I don’t believe all the hype. They are building this up and making it more than it is. This is no different than the flu. I tell you this could be a Communist plot.”

I couldn’t help myself. “So, I get it. What news station do you listen to?” Fox, I thought for sure.

She said, “I don’t listen to any of them. They are all fake. Fox was bought out, and I would never watch CNN.” Of course, I said, “I knew it!”

She then proceeded to tell me about the Communist plot and conspiracy theories. I stood there and can’t believe I said this. “I am more communist than anything. I like some of Karl Marx…”

I hope I didn’t say it too loud, but knowing me, I probably did.

She didn’t really flinch. She just kept going on and on about how we have been brainwashed into fear. I don’t remember her exact words, but I stopped listening at one point. When she suggested the book I have to read – something about the plot. I did a quick body scan and noticed my heart was palpitating, and it just didn’t feel good. Yet she is a person. I said the book you need to read is A Course in Miracles. She got out her pad and said, “What is it? A course in what?” I couldn’t believe she was writing it down. I did not write her book down, didn’t want to know. I’m right, and she is wrong. Then I said, “A Course in Miracles and believe me, I am not practicing it now. We need to shift this conversation to where we can join and not feel separated. Let’s go back to discussing the pot. I think I’m going to get the smaller one. It will be perfect. Wish you could come and see my flowers.”

It turned out every time I needed a customer service rep in the store, they were always working with her, and I was interrupting. I was beginning to feel connected to this woman, although I disagreed with her politics.

As I was checking out, she was leaving with her huge order of wooden barrel pots. I said, “Wow, you are doing lots of planting!” She then told me she and her husband had bought a large farm and were planting an organic garden. She added that eventually, they wanted to open it up as a wedding venue.

Guess what, I thought? An organic garden?? That kind of fits with my side. 

I let it go, and, in my mind, I referred to her as the No Mask Lady.

The next morning, I woke up thinking how, if only I had practiced beginner’s mind.. I don’t know what anything is for, and had I stayed curious, I might have learned who she was at a deeper level. I might have been able to learn something. I might have wanted to take a look at her book.

Yes, this is a time of social distancing out of love for others and ourselves, but I experienced separation because of a difference in values and self-righteousness.

I’m not going so far as to say she was now right, and I was wrong, but there has to be a way we can connect with others and plant the seeds of healing together.

Stick to talking about your garden. We all love flowers.

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