Sunday in church there was a very young girl who was quite upset. Her older brother came up to the Sunday School bench and softly took her hand and led her out the side door of the church. She returned a few minutes later with a small red Pringles can clutched tightly in one of her hands while the other held even more securely to her brother’s. They sat down in the row in front of us. Throughout the service she sat quietly munching on the Pringles.
Here in the only Episcopal Church in Les Cayes, Haiti a world away from southwestern Virginia in almost every conceivable way, Pringles have the same power to soothe an upset child.
There were countless times on trips when Pringles would occupy my own sons (as long as they each had their own) and keep them from fighting or complaining. How could potatoes that had been processed almost beyond recognition into chips play such a universal role? How does a can of Pringles wind up in a community that has so little in terms of material resources relative to the United States?
What was probably more universal than Pringles, however, was the love and care of the older brother for his sister. When it was time for the Blessing of the Children she again cried out in anguish when the Sunday School teacher tried to take her up front. And once again her brother came forward, extended his hand and offered her the security and comfort she sought. His tenderness, kindness and attentiveness to her was amazing for a boy that looked to be about 9 or 10 years old. The adoration in her eyes and comfort she found in his claiming presence is what we all strive for in our own journeys with God. It was the story of God lived out in the service before our eyes.
God is always there to take our hands when we are anxious and afraid. God provides us with our own red can of Pringles to comfort us in the form of friends, family, kind words, reassuring presence, the kindness of a stranger, the smile of a child or the beauty of creation. When we take the time to sit quietly with that gift, and savor the goodness in them, it can calm our fears and reassure us the God indeed is with us every moment of every day walking with us through this grand and glorious adventure we call life.
St. John’s Episcopal, Roanoke, Va.