by Father Mark Goldasich
I’ve always loved stories. The following one, sent by a parishioner almost 10 years ago, has inspired me this Lent:
Jenny, a cheerful little girl with bouncy curls, was almost 5. Waiting with her mother in the checkout line, she saw a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.
“Oh, Mommy, please! Can I have them?” the little girl said. “Please!”
Quickly, the mother checked the back of the box and then looked into her daughter’s pleading eyes.
“It’s $1.95. That’s almost $2. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you so you can save enough to buy them,” said the mom. “Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another dollar bill from Grandma.”
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her piggy bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner that week, she did more than her share of chores. On her birthday, her grandma did send her $1. Soon, Jenny had enough money to buy the necklace.
She loved her pearls and wore them everywhere. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bath. Her mom said that if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a loving dad. Every night, when she was ready for bed, he would come upstairs to read to her. One night, as he finished the story, he asked his daughter, “Do you love me?”
“Oh, yes, Daddy,” said Jenny. “You know that I love you.”
“Then give me your pearls.”
“Oh, Daddy,” said Jenny, “not my pearls! But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. She’s my favorite.”
“That’s OK, honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after story time, he asked again if she loved him and would she give him her pearls. Again, Jenny refused, but offered her dad her brand-new doll instead.
“That’s OK, honey. Sweet dreams. Daddy loves you.”
A few nights later when her daddy came in, the little girl was sitting cross-legged on her bed. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.
“What’s wrong, Jenny?” asked the father.
Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted up her hand. When she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she said, “Here, Daddy. This is for you.”
With tears in his eyes, he reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace. With the other hand, he dug into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.
He had them the whole time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure. (Adapted; source and author unknown)
How are you doing with Lent so far? What God asks of us in these days is something that we consider most precious: our time. Being faithful to the three disciplines of Lent — prayer, fasting and almsgiving — demands time.
And, like little Jenny, we cling selfishly to our usual schedules and hesitate to give time away to God. We only see the loss; we’re blind to the gain.
Perhaps that’s why the church gives us a whole season of Lent. It takes time to surrender to God. It’s hard to relinquish control of our agendas.
This week, carve out a little bit of time for Lent by attending a daily Mass or Stations of the Cross; reading a Lenten meditation on an online site like Dynamic Catholic; attending a fish fry and sitting with people you don’t know; or sending a generous donation to a charity.
The time we’ll give away to God is cheap compared to the genuine treasure he wants to give us: the chance to become the best we can be, his saints.