Peggy found the real treasure.

By Jennifer M. Ginn

WHILE I’M PUTTING IN my customary few hours at the church yard sale, talking with shoppers and cruising the tables for my own bargains, along comes Peggy, an older church member whose adult daughter lives with her. She headed right to the purse table.

She fingers one of my donated purses lovingly, exploring its inside pockets, trying it on her shoulder, then saying: “Yes, that’s the one.” I know she’s getting a treasure, at least if you count the pockets.

For months after her purchase, on the Sundays Peggy comes to church with my purse on her shoulder, we exchange a quiet giggle. That special purse connects the two of us in a shared secret: what was my treasure to carry is now hers.

Jesus says to his disciples: Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:33-34) The treasure Peggy bought that day was a real bargain.

Peggy enjoyed her treasure, the purse with many pockets. After all, she didn’t buy it to hold her valuables. All of Peggy’s valuables were living and breathing. And the “purse” she tucked them into was her arms.

When her arms got full, they emptied into her house, which then filled up with all the people she’d been holding.

So, while I was collecting purses, Peggy collected people.

It wasn’t only those who had trouble fitting in elsewhere that she took in. It was any stray cat or lonely person, and for sure, any neighbor who wanted to help her. She never said no to help, probably because she sensed the offer was more for the one who extended it than it was for her.

Peggy’s story reminds me of the purse Jesus spoke of to his disciples. Like us, Peggy did carry money in the purse that once was mine. But not her treasure. In truth, her treasure had nothing to do with the $5 purse that was once worth $40. And it had nothing to do with her money.

Jesus was right: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Peggy’s life proved it. And no thief, not even death, could steal that.

The Rev. Jennifer M. Ginn is a retired ELCA pastor who enjoys writing, coaching and serving as an interim pastor. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two furry children, one a Jack Russell terrier and the other a yellow cat with a temper.

This article appears in the July/August 2022 issue of Gather. To read more like it, subscribe to Gather.