Connecting with Community

Thursday, April 4, 2013

My Eight Shiny Pennies

Today I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of United Methodist Women, one of my favorite groups to speak with. Saying I was warmly welcomed would be an understatement. As I speak to these ladies I can feel their tenderness.  I haven't known them for more than a half hour and already I am thankful for this new family. They sit anxious ready to be charged with instruction on making a difference for families in need. During my time I share stories of my failures and speak of our families successes. I find comfort in their attentiveness as I am loved without words and respectfully accepted. Their heart is seen through the tears in their eyes and value is tangible in this place . As my time comes to an end, I am approached with hugs and kisses from these lovely ladies. We stand together with nothing between us. There is no longer a line of color, race, money, or status. That has all gone away we are now one. We have only one mission, Loving our Neighbor. 
One sweet woman grabs my arm and through broken words she says, "I am a retired teacher and what you said really hit me.  It hit me hard, it hit me hard that I didn't do better". Shaking her head she says "I just didn't know". "I was busy making sure they mastered their lessons. I just didn't know". I respond with a gentle "I do know better and I still drop the ball". I hug her and kiss her and tell her we will do better.

I depart for my next meeting and I walk down the stairs back out into the cold. As I navigate the parking lot to reach my car, I am gently kissed again but this time by small morsels of moisture. This reminds me of pennies from heaven. I know but just stay with me.
 I have 8 pennies neatly stacked on my desk and those pennies remind me of my nephew. Years ago when my nephew was only seven, he came to visit me at work. They were in town for a doctors appointment.  I gave them a gift card to go eat barbeque at a local eatery. They were experiencing a time of struggles and I wanted to do some thing nice. Later that day my nephew came back to see me. He reached for a hug and said he had something for me. He digs in his pocket and pulls out a handful of pennies. He then extends his little hand and hands them to me. His sweet words still float in my heart, "thank you tia, I really liked the barbeque so I wanted to give you something". He then said "this is all I have" as he hands me seven pennies.

Well it has only been a couple of weeks since I got this new stack of pennies and no they weren't from my nephew. Maybe pennies from heaven. It was a day that I arrived at work only to be overwhelmed  by the 200 + emails, a full voice mail and many unanswered texts. I worked as quickly as possible at crossing each item off my to do list. One by one  every need was met. It was one of those days I was being ungrateful. Those days are more often than I would like to admit.

I remember answering the phone and the young woman, on the other end began to explain her struggle in gathering funds for her water bill. She had only a few hours before they were scheduled to pull her meter. We were working against the clock. At that point she was distraught, at the thought of not having running water in her home. She has little ones and how do you explain this kind of thing to children.  I told her to pay all she could and I would work on gathering the rest. Near the end of the day, I  found the money to help her pay her bill. At that moment it was just another line off of my to do list.

I survive my day and as I gather my items. I sit for awhile and gaze out my window. The flag is still waving freedom, with no plan to be still. In the distance I notice a mother and father play with their little one. I speak out loud with no intent to be heard, "It is to cold to be out". Today I've complained about the weather. I complained about my car taking to long to heat up, I have to sit there for two whole minutes before I feel heat. As I am complaining my eyes catch just a brief glimpse of a man just a few feet away.  He is seated outside, on the ground with his head bowed. I assume he does this to keep the cold wind from hitting his face. With grief I now sit with my head bowed and that is when I see them. It has only taken me all day to notice these 8 pennies neatly stacked on my desk. I was so busy being busy and complaining that I failed to see "my eight shiny pennies". 
In that moment every thing around me is still, even the flag.  The pennies, they belong to the momma. They belong to the momma that paid all she could. Earlier in the day the momma turned in her receipt of what she had paid and with her receipt she left "eight shiny pennies". This momma did all she could.
What if we did all we could? What if we loved without words and respectfully accepted? 
 What would our world look like then? 


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