It's 615am on Easter Morning, and I'm wide awake, bright-eyed and bushy tailed and need to pick up some items for the house and the fridge.
It's dark outside, and I put on some sweats and head out into darkness. People are parking by the Reflecting Pool, in advance of Easter Sunrise services. I head across the bridge into northern Virginia.
Most stores are closed, and I head past darkened parking lots heading south.
Eventually, I find an open store, and it's a Wal-Mart. (Forgive me Lord, I knew not what I did)
I drive into the parking lot and head into the store, which is open 24/7.
The first thing I see is a line at the only open check-out. At least six people are waiting.
I buy the items I need and head to the check-out, expecting the worst.
It turns out there's only two people ahead of me. I get in line.
A woman gets in line after me, and the cashier tells her she will be the last in line. She says she absolutely must go home. I mention to her than no other register is open.
She shouts for a manager, and one comes over.
The woman says she needs to be relieved. Straining, I overhear the conversation.
She says she has been working without a break since 10pm, and it's now 7am and she has promised her family she will be home in time to get ready for Easter services. There is a sense of urgency all over her face. The manager asks her to hang on a few minutes while she does one or two quick tasks, and then she will personally take over the register.
A moment later, the cashier finishes putting my items in the dark gray plastic bags, wishes me a Happy Easter, and the manager takes over. The cashier hurries to complete the hand-off so she can be on her way.
For millions of Americans, especially those barely hanging on from paycheck to paycheck, Easter is just another day. Another day of low pay, long hours, and stress.
I drive back into town, past the Lincoln Memorial, and it is no longer dark. The sound system sends forth the sounds of a choir singing of the good news of the resurrection and the hope and joy that Easter represents to my dear and beloved Christian friends.
I think of that woman who waited on me at that Wal-Mart and hope that she was able to make it home in time and will be able to enjoy this holiday with her family.
I should mention that - as I was putting the bags into my cart - I wished her a happy and blessed Easter and she smiled and looked down modestly, then softly said thank you.
Happy Easter, everyone.