88: Money from Heaven

88: Money from Heaven

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Money from Heaven

When your intentions are pure and clear, nature will support you in unimaginable ways.

~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

An angry rain whipped the exposed skin of my face but did not deter me from my mission of finding the perfect honeymoon outfit. Head down, chin tucked in, I trudged up the narrow steps of the boutique on Newbury Street in Boston. Once inside the brightly lit shop, I lingered, purveying the jewelry, the catchy notecards and of course, the summer dresses. Amidst the new arrivals rack, I found a cute gingham dress that not only looked great but also would be perfect for Hawaii. I gave the teenage clerk my credit card and watched her wrap up the dress with bright fuchsia tissue paper, pack it in a monogrammed box, and slip it in a shopping bag.

As I left the store, I noticed a woman standing with a girl of about seven to the side of the green and white striped awning. It took me a moment to realize she was talking to me.

“Can you spare some change?” she asked. “I need to take a train back to Lynne with my niece.”

I don’t always give to people who ask for money, but this time I paused. The woman’s feet were placed squarely on the ground, wide enough to give heft to her stature. She looked to be over fifty, with gray curls and a brown bucket hat. The little girl holding her hand wore a slicker, but still looked uncomfortable and cold. The wind slapped my shopping bag against my thigh.

I took in her wide chocolate brown eyes, and held them for a moment. They were filled with such sincerity and hope, that, in that split second, I decided to help.

She needed to go quite far, and a mere dollar or two probably wouldn’t be enough to cover her train fare, so I made a silent commitment to give her a twenty. But when I opened my wallet I was all out of cash.

The rain continued to pour, oblivious to our conversation and her plight, soaking us both. I had already said I would help and I didn’t want to go back on my promise.

“Follow me,” I said. She hesitated and looked at her niece.

“Come on, there is an ATM machine a few blocks up. We can go there.” I had to shout a bit because of the downpour.

She assented and the three of us braced ourselves against the storm until we reached the bank several blocks uptown. I used my card to open the glassed-in ATM foyer. As I walked to the machine, a crisp solitary twenty-dollar bill floated in the air directly in front of me. It must have been caught in a draft, forgotten by the last customer. I quickly checked up and down the street, but no one was around. I plucked the twenty-dollar bill from the air, and in awe, handed it to her.

After she thanked me, I said, “It’s not from me, it’s from God” and I told her what happened. She broke into a slow astonished grin and her eyes brightened in delight. “I was praying all morning to God to help me get home,” she told me, “and then you came right out of that store.” We shook our heads in disbelief, both giddy with our good fortune. We parted ways and I stepped back out into the rain. I looked up at the stormy April sky, tipped my head back, and laughed.

~Julia Shepherd Tang

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