July 13, 2017

The Real Widow’s Might

I looked at her capital campaign pledge card and set it aside. At first, I thought it must be a mistake. She couldn’t possibly afford to give this much. I knew her well. She was among the first to greet me when I first came to serve this parish, and was a regular volunteer in the church office. She was rarely absent on a Sunday morning. I knew that she lived off a minimal income and relied on assistance from a variety of community resources. I had visited her in her home often enough to know that she eschewed luxury, and obviously embraced a simple lifestyle out of necessity.

This pledge was clearly beyond her means. Deeply concerned, I scheduled a time to visit her, and before leaving the office, tucked the pledge card into my pocket. After chatting over a cup of hot tea, I took the pledge card from my pocket and laid it on the table between us. “Mabel,” I said, “I’m deeply moved by the amount of this pledge, but also deeply concerned that this is really more than you can afford to give.”

“Of course it’s more than I can afford to give,” she said. “But that’s the point isn’t it? I can’t afford a lot of the things that other people do to make them happy. But I finally realized that if I’m very careful with my money, I can do something that makes me VERY happy indeed – give it away. You wouldn’t want to deprive an old lady of her happiness would you?” And she gave me a smile that said I ought not to argue! So I finished my tea, tucked her pledge card back into my pocket, and left her happiness intact.