I’m having a late lunch at a McDonald’s near my house. There aren’t many people in here at this time of the afternoon. I noticed a woman come in and head to the restroom near me. She was talking on her iPhone, so I didn’t pay much attention to her.
As she left the restroom and walked near my table, she asked the person on the phone to hold on. She walked right up to my table and I started wondering whether I knew her and she was coming to talk to me. But she stooped right next to my table — about 18 inches from my feet — and picked up a penny from the floor.
“You have an angel thinking about you,” she said as she extended her hand with the penny.
I smiled and gave a friendly little laugh as I said, “Thank you.”
“I’m serious,” she said. “I felt it as I walked past you and this is confirmation. You need an angel today and she’s thinking about you.”
And with that, she went back to her phone conversation and went to the counter to order.
As far as I know, I’ve never met the woman. She was Hispanic, well-dressed, well-spoken and seemed to be about 45 years old.
I wondered whether there was some superstition about pennies and angels, so I did a quick search and discovered several instances of people writing about such things.
“They say when an angel misses you, they toss a penny down from heaven,” one writer said. “Sadly, not everyone knows how much truth there is in this old adage.”
Another said it’s a sign from an angel that a loved one is thinking about you. Some of the writers were religious. Some claimed it was a psychic or spiritual idea from some other perspective. There seem to be several variations of the superstition.
It sounds just as silly as any other superstition. I don’t toss horseshoes over my shoulder. I step on cracks and walk under ladders. They all seem like silliness or metaphors to me.
But here’s the thing. When this woman told me that, I wanted to believe her. So the interesting thing here isn’t the penny or the woman or any angel or a loved one. The interesting thing is that my heart wanted to believe.
I have a feeling this is how a lot of superstitions spread. People made dubious associations between events — a crow passing overhead, followed by someone’s death, maybe — and then jumped to conclusions about what signs meant. Then they repeated their conclusions — and others believed the things which they wanted to believe or maybe the things which scared them. And the superstitions spread.
Today hasn’t been a good day for me. There’s nothing specific that happened, but I’ve been dealing with acceptance of something I haven’t wanted to accept. It has me down.
So when this woman told me an angel is thinking about me today, I wanted to believe that. I wanted to believe someone has me on her mind. (I think of angels as female, for some reason.) I have no rational reason to want to feel this way, but it’s somehow comforting. Just like Fox Mulder in a different context, I want to believe.
As I was finishing this, the woman who found the penny and started this came back to my table. She’s apparently been eating and she’s leaving now.
“God is sending you a miracle,” she said. “You need to save that penny. When your angel tells you why you’re on her mind, that penny will remind you of what happened. Trust me.”
It sounds crazy. It’s just silly superstition. I know that.
But I want to believe.
I’ll keep the penny — just in case.