Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Tip Jar

I was reading Dave’s Mormon Inquiry this morning and his latest article titled, “The Mother of All Tip Jars” talking about posting advertising on blogs ( linked via title bar ). I have no problem with folks wanting to offset the cost of maintaining a blog or, for those ambitious and talented enough to capture a large following, generate sufficient income to become self employed writers. That’s not why I enjoyed the article; it was the title.

One of my favorite callings in church was working in the Primary teaching the eleven year old boys. We had a large group of kids and there was plenty of energy that was available for singing during Share Time.

On one particular Sunday they had put on a presentation about the pioneers who’d crossed the Great Plains, the hardships involved and some of the interesting items that had been packed into wagons or handcarts. What would you pack if you were leaving on a one way trip across rugged terrain? Flour, sugar, cornmeal, salt, clothing, a rifle with ammunition, knife and so on as you considered the limited amount of space and the unknown needs that might arise.

In the middle of the presentation we got to see a family heirloom that had made it all the way to the Salt Lake valley, an old world cut glass pitcher. It must have meant more than its actual value to have been selected as “necessary” given the many options to fill that same space in a wagon. If you think about it, there would be a need for reminders of civilization and the refined life that many of the pioneers were leaving behind; more importantly, the life style they hoped to create when they arrived in their new home so far away.

The presentation came to its natural conclusion as thanks for the pioneers was expressed, thanks for all the efforts and sacrifices by those faithful ancestors willing to risk so much brought tears and smiles. The prized cut glass pitcher was placed on the top of the piano for all the children to see its lasting beauty as Singing Time came next.

My eleven year old boys were well mannered and sitting with arms folded, a pleasant surprise, as a brand new pianist was introduced to the senior primary. She sat down and began applying her skills in conjunction with the chorister leading the children in favorite songs.

The thought occurred to me that a little mischief was in order as I reached into my wallet and pulled out a dollar bill. I whispered in the ear of one of the more quiet boys that I wanted him to reverently walk up to the front of the class and put the dollar bill in the “tip jar”. The young man knew that it was pure mischief as a broad smile raced across his face, his eyebrows leaped at the idea of doing something inappropriate and yet not too far over the edge. He resisted, possibly worrying what his parents would say, and then silently walked towards the piano where he winked at the pianist and then the Primary President before putting the money in the tip jar.

I don’t think the younger children understood the mild prank; but the adults nearly lost it trying to contain their laughter as the young man walked back to his chair, arms folded sporting a huge grin. I know the new pianist had a chance to breathe and relax a little as she realized that it might actually be fun to work in the Primary.

Thanks to Dave for jogging my memory, even if it had nothing to do with your intended thought. Sometimes you just get lucky.

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