The Old Woman

March 15, 2002
by Kenn Stright

Mark 12:42-44 – Then a poor widow came along and dropped in two little copper coins worth about a penny. (Jesus) called his disciples together and said to them, "I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. For the other put in what they had to spare from their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had — she gave all she had to live on. (TEV)

I'm at Woodlands hospital — again. I was here yesterday to have some tests done so that I could stay in this beautiful country of Guyana. The first two at the lab went fine and I paid the money necessary, $1400 (about $12.75 Canadian). Then I had to have an X-ray, and that's where my money ran out. "Sorry, I'll come back tomorrow."

A small inconvenience, and now I'm back early in the hot and humid January morning. My pockets have 'plenty, plenty money'. I pay the $1500 and wait at the X-ray department for the technician to show up. People are fascinating, and, as I watch, a whole host of humanity comes and goes through the busy hospital. An old woman and her husband catch my eye. They don't proceed after talking to the receptionist. Instead, they go into a corner together and there count the meagre money they have between them. They are obviously short, and no accounting or recounting will make it come out to more. Undaunted, the old woman reaches into the top of her dress (that's where women hide their bus money here!) and out comes $60 to make up the total. They go back to the receptionist, pay the price with the last dollar to be found between them, and go, walking, on their way, one supporting the other, though I'm not certain who needs the support more. They will walk whatever the distance home in the heat of the day, and they will do it together. She has given everything in that moment of decision, and she did it for love of that man by her side. You can see it in her face, and the pride with which she leaves this place.

And I'm still here, and my pockets are full, but somehow I'm the one who feels empty.

Prayer: Generous God, in giving Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, you taught us the true meaning of giving sacrificially and selflessly. Help us to live lives of love and service among friends and strangers alike, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

About the author:

Kenn Stright <kennethstright@yahoo.ca>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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