the good coins

Posted: June 27, 2011 in people

Jessica stood in a the front of her church in San Juan, Puerto Rico reading the story of the woman who gave one coin. I listened intently, but could only understand the Spanish here and there. No matter, Jessica was the story anyway,  her eyes so beautiful softened by her worship-grief. Every few minutes she  wiped them with a folded tissue that gradually took on more and more salt water, but then she went on.

Her grandma had died that morning. Nothing Jessica or anyone else said was more eloquent than Jessica’s presence. She was her coin, all she was, given gladly.

This week I read on Google news that Peter Faulk had died. It happened on  June 26, 2011.

Columbo will be missed. Faulk as this character was endearing , especially in a fumbling, disheveled, thumping about kind of way. And he got the bad guys.

“This is, perhaps, the most thoroughgoing satisfaction ‘Columbo’ offers us,” Jeff Greenfield wrote in The New York Times in 1973: “the assurance that those who dwell in marble and satin, those whose clothes, food, cars and mates are the very best, do not deserve it.


But who deserves anything. Yeah, probably none of us. But perhaps Jessica.

It’s interesting what intrigues — Jessica and Peter. It’s the personalities that matter, that we remember, that are the gift.

On Friday I visited the Camuy Rio caves.  Nice — a 17 story underground room, its door ways draped in jungle. But as is par for life’s course, it wasn’t the cave that was the big deal; it was Val and her mom, the friends I made on the tour. Riding there,  we chatted it up, and we ciphered it down and it looked to me like Val, a junior in high school is another Columbo and another Jessica.

She is wicked smart and godly beautiful, in love with science and ramped up to help children. Couldn’t get better, the potential, the unfolding narrative, the super righteous possibilities within the existential, ontological, epistemic essence of Val. I told her I thought she should definitely  get  a graduated degree in the sciences and keep being godly.  I bet she will, and that she’ll give the old woman’s mite too.

And then there was Saturday night in San Juan, with the gang, tossing down Mahi Mahi and yakking it up and then getting down to business discussing charity. Lisa, who I had just met through my brother Steve, was spot on. She lectured, and we leaned forward. Lisa talked about the money from her organization, just sitting, waiting, for Haiti, but how the Haitians hadn’t come up with a plan as to how they would use it, how they would do something sustainable.

Wow and wow. She said that one group bought solar panels for a school, I think, and they were stolen that night. They bought them again, and bam, gone again. They quit. The conclusion, you aren’t helping people who won’t own the help.

I loved it! Lisa was a hoot, of information and experience incarnate concerning the NGO and non-profit Christian charity business.

Again, like Val, Lisa was the coin.

What to do? Life is good, and not, and helping is good, and not, and when all is said and done, it seems more and more obvious to me what to do.

Jessica, Peter, Val and Lisa — love those coins.

They kinda deserve it.

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