I appreciate those little white styrofoam cups you’ll happen upon near the cash register of small, out of the way diners. These cups have a few dirty coins clinging to the bottom and words something like this scratched in blue ink across the front: If you need a penny, take one. If you have a penny, leave one.
I’d like to hitch a ride with one of those pennies, to discover who was generous and who was in need, who was a little short and who had a little extra. I bet I’d meet a few people worth knowing and hear stories worth hearing. I’d find reasons to laugh and reasons to cry and plenty of reasons to scratch my head at the craziness of it all.
Everybody has a story. And, I’m convinced, everybody wants to hear a story – only some of us don’t know it yet. Or we know it, but we’ve forgotten.
I’m desperate for stories because I’m hungry for life. I’m looking for mercy. I’m scratching around for hope. I’m convinced that there’s something good in you and darn it! there’s something good in me too. I think we tell things in our stories that are difficult for us to say any other way – we discover truths we hadn’t landed on just yet.
Norman Maclean shares my leaning: “A storyteller, unlike a historian, must follow compassion wherever it leads him.” When I scrawl ink on paper or push my nose in a novel, I’m sniffing out beauty. And mercy. And joy. I’m dropping in a penny. Or taking one out, whichever the case may be.