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Spirituality Essay:

Need a Penny ... Leave a Penny    ( March 2008 )

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pile of pennies

You've no doubt seen those penny trays by the cash registers . . . drop your penny change into it, so anyone needing a penny or two can get to an even nickel - take from it if you're in need. Neat, huh?.... beyond the convenience, the giving and taking social-fabric with anonymous others - being a part of something larger, everyone helping each other out.

Recently, it hit me that over the years, I've probably taken far more pennies than I left behind. Some residue of "not having enough" or "others have more than I do" clearly at play here . . . like I need those pennies given me as change.

I love those wonderful insights we get popping up in life . . . so valuable for change and growth. I feel most fortunate for that particular awareness, realizing that I was still acting out some unconscious needy, deprived beliefs of myself, that date back to early childhood.

Valuable insights like that one, uncomfortable as they may be, just seem to happen, it seems. I'm sure our daily work of meditation and other personal growth practices create a more fertile reservoir of inspiration for them . . . but the exact why and how of them certainly remains a mystery.

But when nuggets of wisdom jump into our consciousness - something we read that jolts our minds, a strange reaction to something ordinary, a surprising comment from a friend, or just a flash of insight as I had - we should be grateful and respond.

That those new ideas occur at all is evidence of our growth: we are finally ready for them! It's probably not the first time that thought passed through our minds, but the earlier ones quickly left because, out of fear or weakness, they were too unsettling and threatening for us to accept. Our past work has brought us to be able to see, accept, hold, and now benefit from these insights. Feel very proud and grateful!

I decided it's time to move on from that old part of myself that still holds onto feelings of being deprived and needy. There's much work involved, but knowing the problem and setting an intention is a major first step.

It's all too easy to have those wonderful insights and intentions slide away, as you probably know . . . as homeostasis, our instinct to return to the comfortable "known" takes hold, so we do have to work at it.

I've committed myself to always leaving all my pennies, and never ever taking any, as a way to push my envelope and "prime the pump" of new growth. How good it feels. Feeling rich - taken care of, enough in my life, more than I need, able to help others with my abundance - and recklessly leaving all those pennies for the world!

The wondrous gifts from those "ah-ha!" moments in our lives . . . and their catapulting of our growth.

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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Read more about the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast.

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