Columnists Mark my words

Column: Anytime is perfect for cheerful change

by Father Mark Goldasich

Thank goodness for Hawaii! Now maybe I can get a little bit of rest. It’s been a long haul — 10 years, to be exact — but the end product, I must admit, is impressive.

A lot of you might already know what I’m talking about, but just in case, here’s a hint: Think quarters. State quarters. Back in 1999, I showed my mom a new coin. It was an unusual quarter that featured the state of Delaware on the back. Little did I know at the time that I was creating a monster.

I explained to my mom that eventually all 50 states were going to be featured on their own coin. Mom’s response was an enthusiastic, “These are nice! We’ve got to collect them all!”

I ordered a special folder to display the state quarters and placed the first one in it with great fanfare. After Mom looked at it, she asked when we could get the rest of them. I explained that the U.S. Mint was going to release five a year, based on when the states entered the Union: “Uh, that means that it will take 10 years to get them all.”

Oh, that did not sit well with Mom. Her next question was simple: “When will the one for Kansas come out?” I bet that if Kansas’ quarter came out right after Delaware that would have been the end of it. But when I said, “August . . . 2005,” I knew I was doomed. If we were going to collect all of those until the Kansas quarter, we might as well get them all.

And we did.

I thought about those state quarters this past Sunday, when a parishioner named Mary approached me after early Mass. She had just returned from a business seminar in Atlanta and said that she had something for me. She then pressed something into my hand, gave me a hug and said, “Pass it forward!”

When I opened my hand, I found a heavy gold coin. On one side was an image of a puzzle piece and the words: “You’re an essential piece!” On the flip side of the coin, it read: “Let others know how essential they are! Pass this coin along.”

I can’t tell you how good that coin has made me feel. For the rest of the day on Sunday, all through Monday and right up until the end of deadline day on Tuesday, I carried that coin in my pocket. When I felt stressed, scattered, overwhelmed or unappreciated, I clutched that coin in my fingers and felt better.

Incidentally, the gold coin is called “Cheerful Change,” and that’s exactly what it produces in a person’s heart: a cheerful change.

Those two coins — the state quarters and the gold coin — represent two ways that we can go through life: as collectors or givers. Especially when it comes to compliments or appreciation, we tend to be stingy. We might justify this behavior by saying that the person was “just doing what he’s being paid for” or by thinking that too many compliments will “just give her a big head.” Sadly, that means we often go through life focusing on the flaws, but being strangely quiet on noticing and acknowledging the jobs well done.

That gold coin has been a much-needed reminder for me to be more willing to encourage rather than discourage, to look diligently for virtue rather than sin. By the way, I don’t have that gold coin anymore. I couldn’t keep it; I had to pass it along to The Leaven’s managing editor, Anita McSorley.

But have no fear. I’ll be heading off to the Baudville Web site, the company that produces Cheerful Change, very soon. Just as I dutifully bought rolls of those new state quarters, I’m ordering a roll of these special gold coins.

And, you know what? The longer I look at all the good things going on around me, the more I suspect that Cheerful Change will be gone in no time!

About the author

Fr. Mark Goldasich

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