As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I think it’s important that we pause and connect with our inner gratitude. It is so easy to become lost in the mechanics of day to day living or the want for things we don’t have that we often fail to appreciate the bounty that is readily available to us every day.
…I’ve been going to the same guy for haircuts for over 10 years now and along the way we’ve become pretty good friends. Just recently his wife filed for divorce and we talked about it during my last visit. It is a tough and fresh loss for him. And while I certainly feel for my friend and his situation, in the moment it crystallized for me the appreciation and gratitude I have for my own wife. On the drive home, I called her and shared as much.
Similarly, the continued barrage of financial news can be a source of appreciation – my bills may stack high but I’m not bankrupt and my home is not in foreclosure. Unemployment rates are high but I am fortunate to have a job. Even if you’re on the short end of those draws, there is still plenty for which to be thankful, including even the life lessons you are living and will have to pass along to others.
…And so I wanted to write some inspiring word of encouragement to celebrate the week. I may well have tripped over the clichéd line about “we all have something to be thankful for”, but I refuse to plunge headlong into this true but trite sentiment.
But just when my inner wells of inspiration seemed dry, I received an email from a friend that carried with it a story which seemed to hit near enough to my target. And now, continuing on a theme, I am thankful for the story in a time of writers’ block, and more so, for the friend who thought enough of me to pass it along.
You always hear the usual stories of pennies on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I’ve ever heard this twist on the story. It gives you something to think about.
Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.
The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband’s employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.
As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.
Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny.
He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?
Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.
A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?
“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says”, She read the words “United States of America”
“No, not that; read further.”
“One cent?” “No, keep reading.”
“In God we Trust?”
“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!
When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, “In God We Trust”, and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.
It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful! And, God is patient.
An interesting story, one I trust you enjoyed. In some ways it was probably more religious than something I might offer, not because I don’t aspire to such purpose but rather because I don’t write religion very well. But the take away I’d amplify today is the significance of injecting random, yet common, reflection points into your day. Upon encountering these triggers, take a moment to, if not say thanks, at least be grateful for both the magnificent and mundane elements of your day.
In the meantime, if you are reading these words, know that I am grateful for you taking the time to do so and I hope you’ll continue to read along.
Photo By: Tulip Girl
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