Sometime last week, I heard a dollar coin hit the hardwood floor. Later I stood on it so picked it up and put it on the dresser. Then I swept up a pile of junk mail and threw it away. I heard that dollar clink into the trash can.
I thought to myself.. “Oh, it’s just a dollar, not such a big deal.”
Was that dollar worth getting into the bin? The value of a dollar changes depending on how many you have right, and I can earn one pretty quickly.
But it’s nagging at me that money could be becomes valuable only when you have enough of it to do something significant. Too little and it doesn’t matter? It’s a little selfish, right?
Generosity uses different language though. It redeems this idea of “more and enough” by making it communal. Giving of ourselves, sharing what we have makes many things/experiences worth more than face value.
When we share the Lent experience (or any experience of common sacrifice) it increases in value. And it’s not the scale of what we choose to sacrifice that matters – there’s no need for more or enough, because a little goes a long way.
It’s in the small details that you notice opportunity. Sometime last week, I was crawling into bed late at night. I threw my jeans into the laundry basket and vaguely recall hearing a dollar coin hit the hardwood floor. When I stood on it the next morning, it got my attention – I picked it up and put it on the dresser.
Life’s been a little chaotic of late. There’s a pile of unopened mail sitting on my dresser too. The usual stuff – bills that will be deducted automatically, newsletters that I’ll get to sometime. The things I don’t have to pay attention to. On that morning, I gave myself a couple of minutes to sort the stuff I really need to read … and threw away the junk. As I was scooping up that pile of sloppy papers, I’d picked up that dollar too. I heard it clink in the bottom of the trash can.
It’s another question about what I value. What I’d give up (a dollar in the trash, a nibble of chocolate after dinner, meat or wine) and what I couldn’t live without.
What it costs to be generous, communal, to live outside of myself.
There are rituals, like Lent, which is a bridge into this world of wants and desires. More and enough… of anything, becomes the crux of good and evil in our humanity.
Values of Generosity and Community say things like ‘a little goes a long way’, that the act of giving or sharing gives money value greater than it’s trading worth. Makes $5 as precious as $100 because of what they are added to. Food goes further. When denial of self becomes a communal expression, it somehow makes it easier to bear. Despite what I lack – I am more and enough.
So I grabbed my dollar out of the trash and was 5 mins late to work. Not because the value of that one dollar is so big but because my dollar will make someone else’s 25c more significant.
Then I picked up all the loose change on the dresser. There was $12 worth of ‘not such a big deal’ change sitting there. I apologised in my head, for not thinking they were worth anything.
Originally written for World Vision USA, published on their 30 Hour Famine blog.