A Penny in My Pocket

by Melannie Svoboda SND on October 12, 2020

NOTE: I’m having a problem with my blog. This week’s post will not accept any of your comments. I’m so sorry. The tech people are looking into it. I apologize for the inconvenience…Melannie

Recently, I’ve started carrying a penny in my pocket. Why? Because inscribed on every penny (and, indeed, on our other coins and even bills) is our nation’s motto: “In God We Trust.” The penny in my pocket is a tangible reminder for me of the essence of my faith. In difficult and confusing times (like now), I need this reminder more than ever.

A history of the “In God We Trust” motto is interesting. The first coin to have those words inscribed on it was the two-cent piece in 1864. That was in the midst of the Civil War. Talk about a difficult time! But it wasn’t until almost 100 years later (in 1955) that the 84th U.S. Congress made “In God We Trust” our national motto. The legislation was signed by President Eisenhower.

(Photo by Pixabay)

Since then, there have been several attempts to change those words or to remove them altogether from our money. Some have argued that the words are a violation of the First Amendment because they appear to be a government endorsement of religion. So far, though, the motto has stood. But I wonder how many people even notice those words today let alone buy into them.

Years ago I wrote a satire about a fictional country with the same motto. One day, this country decides to change the motto. The people in that country reasoned, since so few people in the country actually believed in God anymore, it was time to replace the word “God” with another word, a word that most of the citizens trusted in. A committee was established. They suggested the new word be another three-letter word to make printing the new motto easier. They asked the public for suggestions.

The oil industry was the first to speak up, saying the motto should be changed to “In OIL We Trust.” The industry gave two good reasons: 1) the industrialized world was totally dependent on oil, and 2) this dependency was so strong, it influenced all national and foreign policy. But those advocating renewable energy sources said the nation had to be more forward looking. They suggested the motto should be “In SUN We Trust.”

(Photo by Karolina Grabowska)

Others said the motto should be changed to “In LUV We Trust” because love was so important for society. But the committee rejected that proposal, strongly objecting to having a misspelled word in the nation’s motto. Many citizens, fearful of the unrest in society, wanted “In LAW We Trust,” while some pleasure-seekers suggested, “In FUN We Trust.” In the end, the fictional country decided to leave the three letter word blank, so every citizen could enjoy the personal freedom of filling in the blank with a word of their choice. So the motto printed on the nation’s money became: “In _ _ _ We Trust.”

The magazine that ran the satire added this caveat: “Neither the author nor this publication is suggesting we remove ‘In God We Trust’ from our money…The reader must decide whether such a hypothetical case is really all that remote.”

(Photo by Wendy Zyl)

The penny in my pocket is not a good luck charm, nor is it a mere trinket. It is a gentle reminder for me of one of the most frequent refrains in the Bible, especially the Psalms: “Happy are they who put their TRUST in Thee (Ps. 2:12)…. O Most High, when I am afraid, in You I put my TRUST (Ps.56:4)… “Show me the path I should walk, Lord, for to You I enTRUST my life (143:8).”

My penny is not a cop-out either. By saying I trust in God, I am not saying I can sit back and watch God work! No, I am also acknowledging my personal responsibility as a disciple of Jesus to participate in the building up of God’s Kingdom on this earth.

In the morning, as I slip my penny into my pocket, or later in the day when I feel my penny while reaching for a tissue, or in the evening when it falls to the floor as I’m taking off my slacks, I pray, “God, I trust in You. Amen.”

Did anything in this reflection speak to you today? If so, what and why?

When you feel your trust in God is being “tested,” what do you do? In other words, what helps you to keep trusting in God?

If someday, Congress or the Supreme Court gets rid of this motto, how would you feel? Would it make any difference to you? Why or why not?

PS #1: Once again I ask your prayers for a retreat I’m facilitating for the Benedictine Sisters at St. Scholastica Monastery in Fort Smith, Arkansas. This will be a virtual retreat that runs from Sunday, Oct. 18 through Saturday, Oct. 24. Thank you for the support of your prayers!

PS #2: Sister Doreen Strahler, SND, passed away recently. I have used her beautiful poetry several times in this blog: “Poems about Candy” (Oct. 29, 2019) and “Writing Haikus” (Feb. 18, 2019). As a tribute to Doreen, I’ll include here a few lines from her poem, “Autumn’s Woodland Activities”:

Trees compete to flaunt their hurrah of glory in these lingering days of bright sunshine… Wild rose bushes sprout red berries, pips for bird’s winter food… Young evergreens proudly display their first cones… Cattails loosen their velvety brown coats to expose soft white down inside… V-shaped flocks of geese fly, hopefully far, to outdo the coming season’s rigors… Chubby groundhogs busy themselves with much eating so as to endure the long winter fast… Nuts fall to the ground sending watchful squirrels scampering to store them… Autumn— Season of endings! Season of beginnings!

May Doreen, who, during her earthly journey, saw hints of heavenly beauty everywhere, now enjoy the fullness of Beauty for all eternity!

Our video today is Psalm 62 sung by Aaron Keyes. I chose this version especially because of the lovely photos that accompany the lyrics. I hope the beauty of the words and the photos brings you peace and strength today.

I welcome you to respond to today’s reflection, video, or other responders…

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment