We have a jar for spare change sitting on our kitchen counter. Brightly colored coins we collect until the jar is full and then we cash them in to use for treats or pocket money. When I was a young girl, 5 of those copper pennies could get you candy. 25 of them could get you into the latest movie screening in the church basement. In the first half of the 20th century a few pennies could buy milk or bread. This shiny disc always holds the promise of something more in exchange.
Nowadays the humble penny is losing ground. In Canada, it is not even used as currency anymore as they have gotten rid of pennies altogether. These days that small fraction of the dollar has lost much of its clout. And yet its legacy and mystery endure. I always stop to pick up a penny. It reminds me that the smallest thing can become large in numbers. One hundred of those copper gems can give me a dollar! The value of the penny has most certainly diminished as time marches on and yet for me it is a symbol of how something so small and insignificant can move mountains.
The one thing a copper penny has almost always been associated with is luck. If we find one it must portend some fortuitous event for us. As a species, we have always put faith in objects; 4 leaf clovers, horseshoes, rabbit’s feet. Folklore and traditions have kept this magical thinking alive through generations.
The bottom line is that we all need to have faith in something. We all want to believe that a force greater than ourselves can bestow some peace and grace upon us even in the most dire of our circumstances despite not knowing how or why. I confess I have depended on this force for most of my life. It’s human nature to need something more than our senses can detect and let’s face it. It sometimes works.
Whether it’s coincidence or serendipity, I have had times when there has been a direct relation to offering up fervent prayers and positive outcomes for the thing I was believing could be impacted. Of course whenever positive outcomes do happen it reinforces the idea that this faith thing really works. Is it so bad to have faith in things unseen? Organized religion has espoused this for millennia and longer. Indigenous people the world over have lived their lives with faith in the seasons, in nature, in the cycles of the sun and moon, in the currents of the earth and still do. And I confess a full moon stirs me in a way that makes me fully believe in the magic of life.
Faith however is nothing without work on our part. I believe I will get a job but not if I am not actively searching for one. I pray I will get healthy but not if I am not actively participating in the process. And therein lies the rub. Faith without action is just wishful thinking.
What I have learned is that I need faith to get me through the night. I am by nature a worrier and I can ruminate endlessly. Letting go is and has been a steep life long learning curve. I sometimes quake when I think of my kids out on their own in this big, beautiful, dangerous world. The fear can become overwhelming. But then I try to let faith take over. To convince myself that all is well and what will be will be with or without my worry. It is all out of my hands. Then I send as much loving energy as I can out to both of them. It is hard to place so much faith in the unseen. And yet I would not wish to know the future a million times a million times over so it’s got to be today.
I keep my eyes open for that copper penny shining on the ground or other messages from the universe. I burn candles. I keep the faith. I wish upon a star and cross my fingers. I jump the cracks in the sidewalk and walk around that ladder against the wall although I will always go out of my way to pet a black cat. Maybe it’s enough just to have one more day to live, to love, to be better, to laugh or to cry. Still, just in case, I will stake a little bit of my future on that little copper disc. A penny for my thoughts. Wish me luck!