October 3, 2011

Roscoe and the Widow's Mite

Roscoe opens his hand to reveal the pair of earrings.

The tarnished hoops look small in his calloused hands.

I found these in one of the trash bags I was sorting through, he tells me. I cleaned ‘em up real good for you.

I take this widow’s mite and thank him.

I’ve shared with you about Roscoe before. A member of the recovering community who attends weekly meetings at the church, he started coming to our dinner and Bible study last winter. 

He always tucks in his shirt and smoothes back his hair before opening the fellowship hall door. And he always bows his head to pray before taking the first bite. 

At the Bible study last week, we talk about Abraham and Sarah and whether - or how - God speaks to us. One woman is convinced that God doesn’t “call” people into action; rather, she says, our Christian values guide us to make righteous choices. Others, including me, are adamant that we hear God speaking to us, whether through an apparition or vision or a still small voice that compels action. 

Then Roscoe speaks, his brown eyes steady as they connect with each person around the table. 

I know what happens when God calls and you don’t listen. I know what it’s like to waste the gifts God gives you. I spent a lifetime running away from God. 

Don’t do it, he says. Use your gifts for God. Don’t end up like me. 

I keep Roscoe’s earrings next to the keyboard in my office. I’m not ready to put the trash-recovered jewelry in my ears, but I pick them up often, sometimes rubbing them like a makeshift rosary.

Take me, use me, Lord. Help me put aside my own wants and listen to your call for my life. 

And often, I add one more prayer: Thank you, God, for Roscoe, for a man with nothing who is willing to give everything. Let me, who has everything, more willingly give ... my heart, my time, my money. Amen.