Grounded In God

Grounded in God
By Jim Cavera and Ann Cavera
Liguori Publications

Spare Change

Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters spilled over the top of our pickle jar and onto the dresser. The time had come to count the contents of our spare change jar. Within an hour the kitchen table held a stack of neatly rolled coins. Who would have guessed we had fifty-five dollars in the pickle jar?
         Spare change had a special place in the houses where we grew up. Grandpa Cavera collected his spare change in a certain drawer. He often gave a grandchild the job of counting the coins. Afterwards, Grandpa gave the lucky child the counted coins.
         Grandpa Smith kept a ten-gallon jug behind his bedroom door. The large jar reflected his ever-optimistic outlook on life. Our modest quart jar fills quickly which may say a lot about our generation’s need to see immediate results.
         Somewhere between our generation and the one following us, there has been a fundamental shift in the way we think about spare change. “Spare” once meant something extra that had value, and should be saved for a time of need. We had spare tires and blankets, and even a spare room. As children, we searched for two-cent pop bottles to redeem for a few coins. We used the change to get into the Saturday matinee, and see what Flash Gordon was up to.
         Nobody talks about “spare change” anymore. Now, it’s all loose change. Loose change is useful only when it’s left as a tip for poor service. Loose change falls, forgotten, between sofa cushions and beneath vending machines. It lurks in dark corners where it remains forever worthless. Loose change and loose people lack focus. Consequently, neither ever amount to much.
         Sometimes the difference between spare change and loose coins is relative. In the Gospel of Mark (12: 41-44) the widow with no change to spare offered her last two coins. Her gift became more than enough. On the other hand, the rich offered large sums that meant nothing more to them than loose change.
         Perhaps change jars began disappearing when we lost the ability to see that the sum total of life is made up of thousands of smaller bits and pieces. We have forgotten that acts of kindness or moments of joy eventually make up the sum of the person we become. For the most part, we have become loose people, throwing away minutes on worthless passions instead of cherishing the spare moments of life. Have we forgotten that both spare change and spare time, when added up, can make us wealthy?