“Do you guys need a cart?”

I looked over my shoulder at the woman parked next to us in the grocery store lot as my two older kids piled out of the minivan. I adjusted my toddler a little higher on my hip as I glanced at her cart.

It was tiny. I smiled. I wouldn’t even be able to fit my two year old in there, let alone a week’s worth of groceries for my family of five. The middle-aged woman pushed her brown hair out of her eyes as a gust of wind brought the aroma of Japanese food from the other end of the parking lot.

“I can totally return that for you, but I’ll be trading it in for the minivan version.”

She laughed and clasped her hands. “Thank you! Oh, I love you!” she said and, after blowing a kiss, turned and got into her two-door hatchback.

I love you. From a total stranger.

Just minutes before, the thoughts that mixed with the sounds of my kids bickering in the backseat as we cruised along on the highway, were also about love. But they were heavy, heavy thoughts. I had been thinking about how sometimes we end up disappointing loved ones when we really try not to. I had been thinking about how sometimes the ones we hope will love us, don’t. Or at least not without condition. I had been thinking that love should be easy to give and receive. If it’s the core of who we are, then why hold on to it with tight fists? Miracles happen – babies grow, immune systems strengthen, cultural gaps are bridged – because of love. Why waste the capacity to spread love?

As I turned away from the car and herded my family into the grocery store it felt like all my questions that were like stones in my heart began to disintegrate and float away. And the answer made itself known: Love DOES come freely. And it IS given freely. And we see that if we are mindful, conscious, awake.

Are you ready to find love in unexpected places? In the eyes of a stranger? In an encounter in the grocery store parking lot? In the chorus of baby birds, the nod of a neighbour walking his dog, the tears of someone deep in the thick of grief. Love is woven into every situation.

Where did you find love today? I’d love to hear in the comments!

taslim jaffer, let me out creative