As a child, I remember hearing stories of about the ‘widow’s mite’ as an example of sacrifice. The story goes as follows:
There was once a man who walked into a religious temple with a large charitable donation. After he gave his offering, an elderly widow walked up to the offering plate and placed two pennies (otherwise known as ‘mites’) in the plate.
Those around scoffed at her offering; questioning how much good would come from two small coins. The teacher chastised them, saying:
“This widow has given, by far, the largest offering today. While all others made offerings from the excess of their resources, she gave extravagantly; giving what she couldn’t afford. She gave her all.”
I was reminded of this story this morning, while spending time at Portland Rescue Mission. A woman walked up to the food line to receive her breakfast, thanking the staff and volunteers for her meal.
As she walked away, I noticed her appearance; fixed hair, make-up, and attire designed to catch a man’s eye.
As she sat down, she pulled out a large wad of cash. $20’s, $10’s, and $5’s spilled from her pocket on to the table.
She returned to the serving line with the money in her hand. “I got paid and I’d like to give something back” she said, while pushing the money into my hand. I directed her to a staff member who graciously received the money.
The occurrence was a reminder that love comes in all shapes and sizes. In this instance, it was a beautiful display of love that challenged me to do more with what I’ve been given.
Serving at the shelter is an inspiration, because there are endless stories like the one I just shared. The people who come to the shelter live in a reality where any one of our worst days are likely far better than their best days.
Yet, in spite of the circumstances of being homeless, I see people who arrive with authentic joy in their hearts, offering beautiful smiles through broken teeth and filthy clothing.
Today was a humbling reminder that a heart of joy can shine in even the darkest of circumstances.
We have so much.