Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Simple Gifts

Jennifer was working as a waitress when, one night, a group of nuns came in. Jennifer served them and was also curious about these women who had devoted their lives to god. Their exchange was lively and the nuns’ joviality infected Jennifer who joked and teased along with the Sisters. The Sisters were themselves curious about Jennifer. The nuns were on their way to see a play called Nunsense.

The Sisters returned to the restaurant after the play and sat in a section that Jennifer was not working. Nonetheless, the Sister’s called Jennifer over and told her of the play, blushing as they reported on some of the more scandalous scenes. Their good cheer was undiminished and, as they were about to leave, they approached Jennifer, told her how much they enjoyed meeting her, and gave her a five dollar bill. Jennifer protested that they hadn’t even been in her section but the Sisters were insistent, saying that they wanted to support Jennifer in whatever she chose to do.

Jennifer was moved by this humble gift and vowed to use the five dollars for something worthy: perhaps donate it to a shelter or some other charity. However, that night Jennifer went out drinking with friends and ran out of money. She debated using the $5 she had just received and went ahead and spent it. The next morning she awoke mortified at what she’d done. It was the beginning of a soul-searching during which she stopped drinking. She reflected on her life and eventually chose to get involved in literacy work as a volunteer tutor.

Some months after meeting the Sisters Jennifer was serving a young couple in the restaurant when something moved her to tell them the story of the nuns and the five dollar bill. She enjoyed serving the young couple and was surprised when, after the couple left, the man approached her and said his wife wanted to talk to her. Jennifer thought that the service had been appreciated but now prepared herself for some unexpected complaint.

The woman handed Jennifer a five dollar bill saying that she had been so moved by the story that they wanted to give her back the $5 the Sisters had given her.

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