“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one…” (Luke 15:8 NIV)
One day, when he was eleven years old
he went next door to the widow’s,
as was already his habit,
to ask if he could be any help.
How often had he heard his mother:
“Such a shame, that son of hers never comes,
and I don’t even know what the daughter-in-law looks like?
They live in Capernaum. She might as well be all alone,
sonless, as to have mothered such a one.”
So he made it his business, in his good boy’s way,
to be somewhat of a grandson to her,
to poke his head in once a day,
and see what she was doing.
Often, almost always these days,
she was baking, or had just baked,
some sweet thing,
and had goat’s milk in a jug
in the cool corner of the room,
and was just about to sit down to a bite,
just something to keep her strength,
and wouldn’t he like to join her?
And then, after, there might be wood to carry in,
or water from the well…
she liked the water from two streets over,
and had gone to that spring faithfully each
day until her knees gave out…
or it might be the goat had not been milked,
or the milk skimmed,
or a loose hinge on the door to be retied,
or something in the rafters to be brought down,
or quail eggs to gather, a bit of weeding…
some little thing a boy could do,
that a son would, if he ever came…
and then, most days, that something sweet to finish
(“It will only go stale if it sits there…”)
and then home.
But this day, when he reached the door
he was astounded to find the whole
house turned upside down.
Clothes from a chest were over everything,
jars and jugs from the very backs of cupboards,
jars and jugs he’d never seen before,
stood on the table,
the spare bedding was in a pile on the bed,
and the widow was down on hands and knees
with the lamp, following a crack across the floor.
she said as soon as his shadow crossed her path,
“come help me. I’ve lost a coin.”
Y’shua looked to the table where there were two
piles of shekels, one just slightly taller than the other.
“Is it not there on the table?” he asked.
“No, no…” she said, glancing up abstractedly
and pushing the hair back behind her scarf,
“there were ten, all my savings for the tax…
ten, and now only nine.
Where could it have gone?
Where could it be hiding?”
So he had gotten down with her,
and run his eyes and hands over the hard packed floor,
poked into cracks, fetched a sliver from the woodpile
to explore the deeper shadows,
unstacked and restacked the bowls,
turned over the clothing chest once more
as she muttered around him,
often doing what he had just finished all over again,
as he must, he knew, be researching
where she had already searched a dozen times.
Finally, dusty and worn, they both flopped down at the table.
She put her elbows on the worn wood
and propped her head in her hands.
There was a strange bump and a bit of world in the table.
“Gone.” and she clucked her tongue,
rubbing her eyes, her back,
reaching for the lamp to put it out.
“You shouldn’t worry Grandmother,”
“Our Father will take care of you.
He has many coins.
He won’t count one short against you.”
And there it was again.
As her elbows came to rest on the table
to lift the lamp, the table rocked,
just a fraction, just a little bump.
And Y’shua was up.
“Grandmother, wasn’t this table steady yesterday?”
She looked up at him, but her eyes were inward.
“Has anyone moved the table?”
And a smile spread across her face.
“That goat! Last evening, when I first counted coins,
that goat got in here, he’s always after scraps,
and the door latch needs tightening again,
and he was all over the kitchen
as I tried to shoo him out with my apron.”
And both of them were down
on hands and knees again
looking at the table leg nearest the pile of coins.
“Lift it can’t you?” the widow said,
as she poked with the sliver under the leg.
Y’shua stood and braced his hands
beneath the table top and pushed,
his face screwed up with the effort
and a grunt driven out, but the table shifted,
the piles of shekels slithered over,
and he heard her cry.
“Ahaa… there you are!”
And she stood, the coin held up,
caught between thumb and finger,
and then she carefully restacked the shekels,
and placed the lost coin on the shorter.
“God is good!” She exclaimed.
“God is good!” Y’shua replied.
“Haah, that’s better!” she said,
dusting her hands and
putting the coins back in their jar.
“I must go tell Ruth and Jessie.”
She bustled around the one room,
tidying away the clutter.
“I’ve found the coin.
There is sweet bread in that cupboard,
boy, and milk from the goat in the corner.
I’ll bring them back to see.
Go get your mother and your brothers and sister.
We will celebrate. We will rejoice.
I have found the coin!
God is good!”
It was quite an evening by the end,
with neighbors coming by,
and some returning with sweets of their own,
even a small jug of wine…
it turned into a minor feast,
a night of laughter and tales
of loosing and unexpected finding,
a spontaneous neighborhood celebration,
a day to remember the goodness of God.
The day the widow found her coin.
Such simple rejoicing.
Such an unlooked-for,
A bench mark experience.
The heavenly, unmistakable,
taste of restoration.
Y’shua would remember.
In the loosing, and especially
in the finding, God is good.