Robert Costello

home           away            pennies           scoreboard                  map

Pennies from Heaven

Pennies would show up in odd places. Streets, sidewalks, Metro platforms. I've found them all my life, but never as pronounced as during the time while I was living in Los Angeles. One time I was walking on a diagonal crossing at 4th and Colorado in Santa Monica. I saw a very bright penny on the street. Then another, and another. All leading me back to the Expo line. I took these as small down payments on God's promise to me that He would look after me during my exile.

And then one day...a charming French couple came to visit. But first, the back story.

I was becoming a regular at St Joan of Arc on Gateway Boulevard in Los Angeles. Curious about the namesake, I watched the 1928 restored film 'The Passion of Joan of Arc' , directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. I read Mark Twain's 'Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.' I was taken by the faith of this young woman. And then, as previously mentioned, this lovely French couple came to visit. Actually, she was French, he was Turkish. One Saturday evening they prepared a feast, beef bourguignon. It was marvelous. We dined in the French manner, taking hours to consume what had taken hours to make. The wine and conversation flowed. And then, I asked our guest about Joan of Arc. As it turns out, she was from Rouen, the village where Joan of Arc was burned to the stake. A small coincidence.

At bedtime the thought came to my head (don't ask me why,) that I should give a penny to her to bring back to France. My head met the pillow and my thoughts went into the netherworld. I woke up early the next morning and left for Mass at St Joan of Arc. Normally, I would enter in the side door of the church, but for some reason, I gravitated to the front door. As I walked up the steps, what do you think I found, on the very top step, at the very corner? Yep, it was a penny. This was just too coincidental for me. My insides laughed. In my mind, God has a sense of humor, and I said to him "Really?"

On the way home from church my mom called. I asked her what she was doing. She said she was looking at old photos of my aunt and uncle from the time they lived in Santa Monica. She said that she had found some pictures of the church they used to attend. I asked her the name of the church, but in my heart I already knew the answer. She said it was St Joan of Arc. So here I am after having just found this miracle penny, and God throws another wink and grin in my face.

I took the penny home and put it in cellophane with one of my business cards. Later that morning I told the story to the French gal and asked if she would return the penny to France. "Leave it somewhere, perhaps at the church, perhaps somewhere else. Leave it where your heart moves you."

She said that she would do so gladly, and that she would take a picture and share it with me. I said that maybe some day I would return to France and find it, or that my children might find it.

So somewhere in France there is a penny that once sat on the steps of the St Joan of Arc parish in Los Angeles. Perhaps it will find its way to another church. Or maybe it will fall out of her purse, leaving it for someone else to pick up and see the message that God is with them.

copyright 9/1/2019 Robert Costello