The Widow's Mite
A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. Then [Jesus] called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:42-44 NRSV
This morning I have been thinking about the widow and her two mites. I have lots of thoughts about this story. First, even Jesus characterized her. She wasn't a woman; she was a widow. She was a poor widow. Someone on whom to cast our compassion. Which isn't bad. Except when all we see is the characterization. She became less than a Child of God (or Love or I AM or Being itself), she became something relative to something else. A poor widow. Right now it is important that we do not characterize each other--even out of compassion. We will not shake racism or bigotry or fear as long as we see an other. The other is you. We are all simply Children of God.
But some of us have a job to do.
The poor widow went to the temple that day. Sometimes we miss her courage for her generosity. A widow did not have rights. She barely had a name. She could be passed to a fraternal household along with the olive wood bowls and the camels. She was Nemo--nobody. She was nobody with almost nothing to offer. Her pledge didn't give the budget new life, she didn't save anyone from hunger, she didn't bring water to her village. And she knew how small her contribution was, and she still came.
And for thousands of years, people have been learning from her.
It takes courage to look at the world and know that you are Nemo and take your place anyway. If you find yourself afraid right now because the world seems treacherous, it is. Some push others down to rise up. And yet, as Nadia Boltz-Webber says, "I am baptized." It is from my baptism that I say:
I will no longer wait for permission
I will not abuse another to advance myself
I will not exchange my name, Child of God, for Nemo
I will take my seventy-nine percent and I will share it with those who get fifty-five
I will grieve fully and, with the tears not yet dry on my face, I will go out in the fullness of who I was created to be
The poor widow, who could have stayed home, teaches us, not with her rage, but with her courage.
Her courage to go.