So don’t pass by that penny
When you’re feeling blue.
It may be a penny from heaven
That an Angel’s tossed to you. – Charles Marshburn
Have you ever had one of those moments that is so pure and singular you remember it for a long time afterward? Where the universe comes together and serendipity presents you with a remarkable instant.
It doesn’t have to be a momentous occasion, like the birth of a child or finding shoes you love that fit. It can be something small, something you have to pay attention to notice. I had one of those moments yesterday.
I am training for a marathon, so I am doing some long runs. Yesterday I ran for most of the morning, then stepped into the shower in the locker room at my local rec center. A toddler’s swimming class must have just let out because the locker room was suddenly filled with noise. It was just before lunch, and the youngsters were hungry and tired. They were protesting being herded into showers to rinse off. Their mothers were cajoling and threatening. A cacophony of voices bounced off the concrete walls and into my ears.
Suddenly, a woman’s voice emerged from the shower next to me. I could not hear the words, but she was singing a song from an Italian opera. Her voice was so pure and sweet, clear as a silver bell. The din around me gradually stopped. The mothers, children and I listened, mesmerized and enchanted by the haunting song. It was a moment I will never forget.
Another moment happened years ago, but I remember it perfectly. My mother-in-law Marian was one of the kindest, most patient people I ever knew. Her life had more than its share of sorrows, but she held her head high and found ways to help those less fortunate than she. She was a collector of lost souls.
Marian loved frogs. She owned frog figurines, pictures of frogs, even frog-shaped jewelry. One evening, after the first warm rain in March, I decided to give her an encounter with some real live frogs.
We drove out to a spot near our house where a small stream flows through the woods and spills over its banks in the spring to create a marshy wetland. I stopped the car, rolled down the windows, and waited. She looked at me quizzically. I held up a finger, and we sat quietly.
Soon it started. First one peep, then another and another, then thousands of peeps filled the warm evening air. There is a tree frog indigenous to our area called the spring peeper. Those frogs, well, peep in the spring. The males are calling to attract mates.
My mother-in-law looked at me widemouthed with wonder. “We are hearing frogs?” she asked me. I assured her we were. She broke into a grin. “I will never forget this.” I haven’t forgotten either.
My husband Bill once showed me a penny from heaven when we were far from home, in a different hemisphere, in fact.
We were visiting my oldest son and daughter-in-law in Chile, where they lived and where my daughter-in-law was born. They took us to an area called The Elqui Valley, a beautiful, remote, semi-arid location rimmed with mountains and filled with vineyards.
We were staying in Los Domos (The Domes), a resort where the lodging consists of miniature geodesic domes constructed partially of wood, with a canvas roof. Dinner was served in a larger dome that held an elegant dining room.
The first night there Bill and I stepped out of our dome to meet our son and daughter-in-law for dinner. I should mention that dinner in Chile is a late affair. In the capital, Santiago, we would go to a restaurant at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m., only to be the first patrons to be seated.
I was walking a few steps ahead of Bill along a gravel path when I heard him exclaim “Oh!” with much emotion. I was startled and turned around quickly to find out what made him call out. He was looking up. I followed his gaze.
Now, Bill and I have sat outside on our deck and looked up at the stars before. We have seen shooting stars while we were at the beach during the Perseids meteor shower in August. But we had never seen stars like the ones we saw in the Elqui Valley. Each star was so bright, so clear and perfect, and the number of stars shining in the night sky seemed to be multiplied by 10. We could clearly see the Milky Way. It was breathtaking. A once in a lifetime experience for us. One we will remember as long as we live.
Here is the thing about pennies from heaven: you have to look for them everywhere, all the time. You must be aware, not looking down at the gravel path. You must put yourself in a position so that if they are raining down, you are able to catch them. We cannot walk through life oblivious to the beauty, the perfect moments that are all around for us to find. You never know when heaven will throw the next penny your way. Be ready.