By the Rev. Tim Schenck
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What would you do if you found $20? This isnít an existential question Iíve been dying to ask some mountaintop sage. I actually did find a lone $20 bill last week, and I had to decide what to do with it. Granted you canít change the world with $20, nor can you enter the monetary stratosphere of the 1 percent. But I was curious about what I could and would do with my newfound windfall.

The first thing I did, of course, was pose the question to my friends on Facebook. I got lots of advice, including but not limited to: save it, invest it, buy 20 lottery tickets, bury it, give it to charity, give it to the church, give it to my wife, buy pizza and take a parishioner out to lunch.

Well, since I was on vacation anyway, I decided to use the afternoon finding ways to spend it around town. The first thing I did was, naturally, buy myself a cup of coffee. Specifically a steaming mug of black coffee from beans grown at the Java Kayumas Estate in Indonesia. Delicious.

That left me with $17.50. After putting $1.50 into the tip jar for some of the best barristas this side of the Charles River, I was left with $16. Now, Iím not big on the whole concept of ďpaying it forwardĒ since I donít really understand what it means and Iím pretty sure itís a phrase coined by Oprah, but I gave Julia behind the counter a $5 bill and told her Iíd pay for the next person that walked in.

Soon after, a guy entered the shop and was told his coffee was paid for. I think he ordered some fancy drink since there wasnít any change left over and if there was, I trust it ended up in the ďInstant KarmaĒ tip jar. Fortunately, Julia didnít point me out -- I wasnít doing this to be thanked and acknowledged.

Anyway that left me with $11. Not as flush as when I entered the coffee shop but still playing with house money. After doing a little writing at Redeye, I stopped by the local grocery store to pick up a small flowering plant for my wife, Bryna, that set me back $6.36 with tax. Then I encountered a group of kids selling lemonade, so I picked up a dixie cup full of over-sweetened pink liquid for 55 cents. I was refreshed; they were delighted.

I was down to my last $4.09. A stop at the ďpoor boxĒ at church where I dropped in two bucks in accordance with the Biblical concept of the 10 percent tithe left me with a whopping $2.09.

Letís face it, $2.09 ainít what it used to be. But I had a final thought: Iím taking the family out for ice cream. So Bryna, Ben, Zak, and I headed down to Nonaís for a quick scoop after dinner. I told them they had to stick to the ďkiddieĒ size -- which actually isnít that small -- but, sure, go ahead and get the sprinkles.

In the end? I lost $5.81. But I had a great day and it was totally worth it. The little things in life really do make a difference -- which is fortunate since thatís often all we have to offer. Iím convinced that generosity begets generosity and thereís no reason we must wait to stumble upon a small treasure to remember this.

The Rev. Tim Schenck is Rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts. Visit his blog Clergy Confidential at or follow him on Twitter at @FatherTim.