Brothers and sisters, if you are as yet unfamiliar with the mysticism of the late night supermarket, I highly urge you to stay awake into the wee hours so that you might discover God between the canned fruits and ice cream cones, search out salvation while shopping for your sundries, encounter the epiphany of early morning consumerism.

God is in the Goya aisle, my friends, and I don't mean the candles. He works a graveyard shift there, lurking by the tamarind nectar and coconut soda, meting out forgiveness and everyday low prices with a pricing gun and a knowing smile. He is in the feminine hygiene products, the affordable family size paper towels, the Nutella and the peanut butter. The proof is in the experience, the proof is in the purchase.

This is no secret; it's just not spoken of very often. Dayshoppers can gab about all they want in their long lines and crowded produce sections. My midnight supermarket is a place of unbound freedom. Seeing the shipping crates, the unpriced product strewn about is akin to throwing back the curtain of the universe: suddenly the mystery of your supermarket's seemingly limitless supply of creamed corn and artificially flavored (yet reasonably priced) fruit snacks is, at least on the most primal, consumer level, laid bare.

Another noticable difference is the muzak: gone. Eradicated. Obliterated by the boom boxes of the workers, the men in their knee pads, the seraphim with the pricing guns. In these wee hours of the night, I've caught whispers of Ramones, hints of Al Green leaking into the world through tinny speakers. I hesitate to call this 'heaven', but a freshly waxed floor in the frozen foods section (all awash in the sobriety and haze of florescent lights) is somewhat near to my strange sense of perfection on this planet.

O, the freedom! Try this: take one of the carts that are lined up like soldiers at the entrance. Steer it to the vacant and humming deli and see how fast you and your 10 items or less can fly, laughing, to the dairy coolers and frozen foods aisles. It is revelry time, a few sleepy hours that can transport you back to your childhood, during that briefest of moments when mother had to wait for her prescription and, yes, you could get some Goobers, but be nice and get something for your sister and for God's sake don't run, but these words were late too late because as soon as "yes" was heard you were off, a sucrose-fueled rocket, screaming down the aisles, awash in overstimulation and impulse buys.

It is dreamlike, this retreat: dreamlike and universal. I have found God in the wee hours of Albertsons, Stop and Shops, Krogers, Vons, and Safeways coast-to-coast. Your experience and perception of the moment will vary, may vary, should vary. Extract what you can from simple pleasures: they are simultaneously abundant and rare. They make life pristine and wonderous. God is in finding out that even you are not above screaming at the top of your lungs while cruising down the cereal aisle on a speeding shopping cart.

(a begrudging thanks to impishlaugh for planting the whole "supermarket = cathedral" thing in my head, although i swear this has been my mindset for years and years and years)

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