For years I hated pennies…
I once collected them. I used to examine every penny, looking for an “Indian Head.” Copper became expensive and I felt pennies waste copper.
As much as I loved pennies as a child, relishing “penny” candy, saving up 12 for a comic book, I grew to loathe them. As a paperboy, pennies became the bane of my existence. When sorting/counting change, it’s the pennies that seem to make your fingers stink most. I came to consider the penny antiquated, unnecessary and obsolete. Many throw them away.
Ultimately, when I’d get a handful of change, I’d drop the pennies and pocket the silver. No matter where I was, I hurled the pennies, figuring that someone would pick them up. Although I felt guilty, it’s a habit I couldn’t seem to shake. I saved the silver but chucked the copper.
One Winter evening, as I sat waiting for my son outside a theater, a man and two boys walked within hearing range. At one point, the man, (I assumed to be the father) pointed down, saying “Look there, a penny.” Stooping to pick it up, he brought it to his chest and looking up, said “Thank you, Lord”.
He then showed the coin to his young sons, explaining that he felt the penny had been placed there for him to find. Every time he finds one, he said, it reminds him that we’re not alone…that God is watching over us–and for this, he’s grateful. Picking up pennies reassures him–if only for a moment–and brings him comfort.
Far be it from me to deny him that. I guess I’ll keep dropping pennies. Maybe you’ll find one. If you do, I hope it brings you comfort, even if for just a moment.
What you just read is an essay I wrote a decade ago, before George Bush gained his first term, before the day that for many of us, made the world stand still (9-11) and before the horrors that followed. I was still punishing pennies
Last fall, I noticed an alternate take on pennies. It’s an inspiring piece, one filled with hope and innocence, one that may renew your faith in life’s potential, even in this cynical world. It begins:
Students from four Worthington (Ohio) elementary schools are
collecting pennies to make change in the world.
Neighbors and friends of students at Granby, Liberty, Slate
Hill, and Wilson Hill elementary schools can expect to be
asked to donate their spare change to the students
participating in a pilot of Penny Harvest, a nationwide
program that allows young children to become
philanthropists and to see how their efforts can make a
I haven’t dropped or thrown a penny since. How we feel about pennies may explain how we approach hope. How do you treat pennies?