December 1, 2006

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Coin surprises inspire messages of hope

Shirley Vogler MeisterWhen my sister, Beverley, and her husband, John, began breakfast one day recently, she told him she had a story to share about a penny. Then he said he had a story about a nickel.

Bev explained how a nurse that she works with at our hometown’s Memorial Hospital was distraught because her brother had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

“I could see in Susie’s eyes the sorrow and pain she was feeling. All day, I wanted to share a message with her to put her faith in God, but it never seemed to be the right moment.”

Later the same day, Bev was talking to Susie about orders on a patient’s chart while the nurse was seated at a desk in the intensive care unit. Bev stood to the left of her. A 2006 penny fell from above, landing directly between them.

They looked around, thinking someone had thrown it at them, but everyone in their vicinity was also surprised by it.

“I picked up the penny and gave it to the nurse,” Bev said. “I asked if she had any special beliefs concerning pennies.”

Susie said—as would most of us—that she would pick up a penny if she found one. Susie took the penny as Bev, an intensive care unit secretary, sat down at her desk. Then Susie turned to my sister and said, “Bev, I looked at the penny and read ‘In God We Trust.’ ”

Bev replied, “There is your message.”

My younger sister is very perceptive and loving. She always seems to know the right thing to do and say with family members, friends and co-workers.

Bev and her also perceptive, loving husband, John, worship at St. Teresa Church in Belleville, Ill.

John’s experience with a nickel began when he retrieved a folding table from their TV and music room. While doing this, he noted “a spot” on the wall between the TV and bookcase.

He had noticed the spot before, but this time he checked it. He pulled out a coin—an 1890 nickel. Neither John nor Bev could understand how it got there.

Shortly thereafter, I recalled a time when John and his brother, Mike, were examining old coins together. I suspected that this nickel might have somehow gotten lodged where John found it. Bev called me a “good detective.”

Since I also consider myself somewhat perceptive, I predict that at some point my sister and her husband will realize that 1890 has some significance for their family.

Meanwhile, every time I hold a penny, I think of the moment that Susie and Bev realized the profound message “In God We Trust.”

Susie’s brother did not survive the cancer, giving her an even more profound reason to believe “In God We Trust.”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

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