“Everything in the universe is a pitcher brimming with wisdom and beauty.” -Rumi
In presenting this week’s theme I suggested we see ourselves as part of something larger. Expanding on that, I now ask us to see each one of us as part of a universe of beings all embedded with the desire to be kind. In this universe there is a conspiracy going on, a positive conspiracy to, in its most optimistic interpretation, bring joy to every person in it. And maybe we, individual people, are just the vehicles designed to provide each other all we need in any given moment by this friendly universe.
In chapter two of her book “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” Annie Dillard tells the story of how when she was a small child she’d sometimes hide a penny in her neighborhood for someone to find. She’d write out directions with chalk that lead to the penny, with statements like “Surprise Ahead” or “Money This Way,” and imagine the excitement of the person smart enough to follow the directions to the prize.
Later, Dillard refers to nature as providing “lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises.” She says, “The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand.” Wow! Could it be that Dillard is suggesting there are all sorts of kindnesses out there just waiting for us to find? But maybe these acts of kindness aren’t so random. Maybe they are part of a bigger picture being carried out by a friendly universe, what Dillard calls a generous hand.
Think about that.
Before Dillard is done, she asks, “But who gets excited by a mere penny?” That’s our problem, isn’t it? We think that what we do or what we encounter isn’t big enough, as if finding a penny hidden by a 6 year-old child isn’t a big deal. Dillard writes, “It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won’t stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days.”
Read that again — The world is in fact planted in pennies. And now imagine these pennies as having been hidden by a child flush with the wisdom and purity of her youth, with signs pointing to them, signs that say, “SURPRISE AHEAD!” How wonderful does the world look now?
So your role this week is to anonymously plant pennies and surprises for people to find without them knowing you planted them. While doing that, I encourage you to imagine that everyone else is doing the same thing. With that in mind, don’t forget to look for those pennies and surprises meant for you, too.