I have become more and more conscious lately of my spiritual poverty. In his kindness, the Lord has been shining a light on the gulf between my intentions, standards and beliefs and my actual thoughts and actions. Inspirations conceived in my heart stay there, unborn, well past their due dates. Inward irritation and laziness blight simple acts of kindness before they bloom. Grudging thoughts mitigate services given without outward complaint. I’ve become acutely aware of my inner eye rolling when certain people come into view. When it’s time to pray, I don’t feel like it…
In short, my love is impoverished. My offering is poor.
Last Monday evening I was at the Community Office with a dozen others, praying and listening to the Lord, when the image of the poor widow and her two copper coins came to my mind. I felt the Lord nudging me to get up, go to the table at the back of the room where I’d set my purse, and get out two pennies.
I sat on it for a little while, but I can truthfully say that I’ve been working on bringing those inspirations into actual existence, and I shortly got up and got the pennies. I just grabbed the first two that I touched. It turned out one was Canadian. Even poorer.
That evening I was aware as always of the imperfection of my prayer and worship, how distracted and tired and even reluctant it is. But I looked at the pennies. I imagined myself putting them down on the floor in the middle of the room, and in my heart that’s what I did. Immediately I found it easier to pray and—most importantly—to let go of the imperfection of my prayer. It didn’t matter. Neither the strength, purity nor accuracy of it were any longer material to the task. I found I wasn’t being given the grace to give a better gift, only the grace to give it all.
I had always thought of the widow’s mite as a problem of quantity only. The wealthy were putting large amounts into the treasury, and she had only two coins. But this experience is pointing out to me that the problem of quality is part of the story as well. She only had copper to give, while the wealthy were undoubtedly donating silver and gold. I have never been too worried about the amount I have to give. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt any responsibility to produce something that I didn’t actually have. “The gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he has not.” But while I have accepted grace for this one kind of poverty, I have been denying it for another.