Sunday, March 15, 2009


I had a plastic penny bank when I was a kid. It was perhaps ten inches tall, shaped like a little girl, very durable. That is where my penny collection started. It was just for pennies; other coins were kept somewhere more useful, more accessible. I didn't keep other coins long-term.

The penny bank was full before I entered junior high. The stash was eventually transferred into a bigger plastic bank shaped like a Coca-Cola bottle, and more recently into a sturdy bucket which started as a container for dog biscuits. I've had some of these pennies for thirty years.

Consider a penny - a small, lightweight little thing. Hardly noticeable at all. But they add up.

My penny collection is measured now in weight, not pieces. It has reached thirty-eight pounds. Lifting the bucket carries potential for injury if done incorrectly. It causes some painful toe stubbage, too, when I'm not careful.

My bucket of pennies is a lot like bitterness.

A lot of slights are really rather small - a sarcastic comment, an unreturned call, an off-hand remark, a dismissive look. But, like my pennies, so many of these low-value items gather and become baggage that gets in the way of life, often causing pain to us and to others.

But we can shift the metaphor, too, and my bucket of pennies is also like gratitude.

Most gifts are small, like pennies - a friendly smile on a difficult day, a door held open for you as you carry a cumbersome package, a note in the mail, an older friend reading with your child. My bucket of little pennies is worth around $63. Like so many pennies, we can collect little gifts of gratitude and see their value together.

What are you collecting, and what are you choosing to let go?

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