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The Silver Dollar

I was raised in the church. My grandfather started off as an evangelist, but he was one of the good guys. I learned early on what the meaning of love and sacrifice meant. My brother and I would visit him, stay in their guest bedroom (Grandpa never lived in anything but a 2-bedroom house the church provided him). Sometimes a battered woman would come in the middle of the night, usually bringing one or two kids. We would be moved to the living room couch so this poor woman could spend the night in the pastor’s home, in a bed with her children, away from an abusive husband.

We also learned that homeless people, we called them hobos in those days, knew his house would offer food. They’d come to the back door, and be served. Sometimes they’d sit in the kitchen, huddled over a bowl of soup and bread. I was told not to talk to them. Although I knew my grandparents didn’t have much money, they had enough to give a bowl of soup to someone who needed it, and never asked for a thing in return. We learned later that somehow a mark had been left on the fencepost, or the name or address had been communicated by some invisible trail of whispers, so people knew a decent person lived there.

On Sundays, Grandpa would stop between the 4th and 5th stanzas of the closing hymn, and ask people to come forward to pray with him. It used to bother me so much, that, if no one else came forward, I would. I had to be gently reminded that I didn’t need to do that any longer, but it didn’t stop me from feeling compelled to walk toward this kind, handsome man who had enough love in his heart for the whole world. And I was just a speck in it.

I think a lot about those days now. So much economic uncertainty in our world these days. It has affected all of us. With this as a humbling backdrop, the clanging of egos and harshness of hucksters has me wincing a lot. I seek the decent people who are nice to their fellow man. Isn’t sexy, exciting and might not contribute to book sales, but seems like the right place for me. I’m having trust and faith in a plan laid down for me if I will just stop and listen to the words.

When I was about 6 or 7, my father brought home a silver dollar from Reno. My parents were the college advisors at our church, and they had taken their group skiing. I loved that silver dollar, and felt rich carrying it in my purse.

One Sunday, someone did a mission presentation in the sanctuary. There were pictures of brown children with dirty legs and distended bellies flashed up on the screen. They talked about the power of just one dollar and what it could do. When the offering plate came in front of me, I went into my purse and pulled out my silver dollar, and laid it proudly in the plate.

Someone had seen me do this, and after the service, my dad said, “Wonderful that you gave that dollar. But it didn’t have to be THAT dollar.” He had replaced it with one of his own, and handed me back mine, and gave me a kiss.

If I could remember more things like that every day, I’d be a stronger person, better wife and mother, better writer.

I do enough, I have enough, I am enough.

What about you? What kinds of things do you think about that help fill you with gratitude for what you have so generously been given?

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