This habit began about twenty years when I read Annie Dillard's Pulitzer prize-winning Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Perrenial: New York, c1974, 1988). In her meditation on "Seeing" she writes,
The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But--and this is the point--who gets excited by a mere penny?... It is a dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. (p. 15)
One day, shortly after reading this for the first time, I was walking down the street in a small border town in New Brunswick. A car slowed to a stop beside me and an older gentleman rolled down his window and stretched out his hand. "Here, you can have these," he said handing me a small handful of assorted coins, "They're of no use to me." A little bewildered I thanked him and he drove off toward the border where he would shortly leave Canada, and his need for our currency behind. It couldn't have been more than a dollar, but it was pennies from heaven to me. It sealed on my heart that tiny blessings are everywhere if we have open eyes to see them and open hands to receive them.
I've been considering for some time if I should blog and if so, what I should write about. Time and again I am brought back to the idea of the penny and of cultivating a heart that is open to seeing value in the ordinary, and the miraculous in the mundane.
This afternoon at work I found three pennies on the floor. Oh what joy that the world is indeed "planted in pennies!" I thought then of the significance of the three copper coins. For while we say that a penny can't buy anything anymore, pennies are still the currency for our deepest thoughts and strongest opinions. And so I offer you Thr3e Pennies: my two cents worth, and a penny for your thoughts. My goal is to share the little bits of wonder that are strewn throughout everyday life, and I hope that you will do the same through the comments below.
A penny for your thoughts?