An excerpt from Little Copper Pennies dedicated to Peter Black
D.G. and Other Symbolic Meanings
Catherine was preparing for a talk on Out-Of-the-Box thinking. She was voicing her thoughts aloud as she recited the goal for her OOB, as she called it: Look at something familiar from an angle you have never thought of before. Dissect it, dig it through, mash it, do anything to come up with something novel you have not considered before.
In an effort to brainstorm unique and creative ideas, she opened the top drawer of her desk for inspiration. A ball-point pen stared back at her. Idly she picked it up, then dropped it in favour of the staple remover. Still uninspired, the chic executive moved the contents with manicured fingers, and the rummage revealed Copper.
Catherine picked up the penny and was about to drop it back, when she paused. Her keen eyes had caught something. Eagerly she examined the inscription on Copper's face, then turned it over and read the other side, and turned it on its face again. The little coin was curious as to what caught her attention, and did not have to wait long to find out.
"Nineteen-sixty," she whispered through red lips, referring to the date on the penny's reverse. "We were born the same year."
This was Copper's first lesson in OOB thinking: looking for parallels in its bronze face and her lighter one, for experiences that were mutual. She was a warm, laughing, brilliant administrator, and Copper was a cold, useless coin. The penny was interested to see how this would unfold.
Catherine talked to herself as she worked. Right now she wore the expression of someone who was on the verge of a breakthrough. That she meant business was emphasized when she shut the door of her office, hastily tacking a handwritten "Do not disturb" sticky note on the outside. Soon her pencil was sketching a herringbone map on her pad with these points:
· Significance of number one
· Significance of metals
· Significance of Dei Gratia Regina
· Significance of maple leaf
· Significance of 1960 combined numbers
· The Queen
"Drat, I only have time for three points." Too much information could clutter her presentation, so a swift decision saw the pencil circling the first three items…content missing
…Here Catherine paused and flexed her neck. To the right and then to the left, upwards and downwards. Reaching for a bottle of water, she swallowed half of its contents. Refreshed, she set out to address her third and final point.
Another Web search for the strange words DEI GRATIA REGINA proved that it was a Latin phrase. Gazing at the monitor the executive stopped with a swift intake of breath. Placing her left hand at the side of her head, she leaned back in her chair and stared up at the white ceiling of the office.
Only she wasn't seeing it.
Nothing lay above her office except open skies, and Heaven. The place from where the grace of God flowed - for the words DEI GRATIA REGINA means 'By the Grace of God, Queen.'
The 1960 penny had the Grace of God inscribed in Latin. All the other coins had them too, but Catherine had never, in her half-century of living, wondered about those foreign words. Now she was transfixed. There was no need for further research. The rest would be written from her journey of grace.
As she delved into her black leather bag lying in the bottom drawer of her desk, the brunette's hair fell forward as she raked the bag for something. Coins they turned out to be. Of all denominations. One by one, through new and puzzled eyes, she read each then sorted them into two piles. One pile had one coin, the other had eleven.
In haste she turned to the untiring Internet, and scrolling on the Royal Mint's website, she gave an "Aha" of triumph as she read these words aloud:
1965 – Maturing Monarch. A new obverse sculpted by Arnold Machin portrays a more mature Elizabeth II, wearing a jewelled tiara. The legend, too, was revised: the formal Dei Gratia was reduced to D.G.
The eleven coins Catherine had placed in one pile had the initials D.G., and naively, she had thought that those were the initials of a person. She had not attributed them to an abbreviation of Latin words. It was not a far-fetched notion, as K.G on Copper's reverse was indeed the initials of the artist George Edward Kruger-Gray who had designed the maple twigs. The little coin wondered if most people thought similarly. This change had taken place forty seven years before the coin's removal, and the younger generation may have overlooked it as well.
The screen saver, flashing a hypnotizing show of colours and edifices, had obliterated the slides, but with AutoSave doing its job, Catherine had no need for the computer just then. Her whirring brain would capture it better in pencil and paper and then she would summarize it on the PowerPoint.
She possessed a strong faith, and as she verbalized her thoughts Copper learnt a most unique discourse about how the woman viewed a penny. They were her personal thoughts but the little coin wondered if others shared the views. To her, God's name was holy. Even on a coin. It should not be used in vain, nor should it be stepped on.
Catherine shuddered. She often dropped pennies carelessly and never bothered about their worth. Above all, she would never pick up a penny unless it was in her own house or car. Now she felt a twinge for desecrating God's name and His message of grace because of her disdain for the penny lying on the ground. The word 'Grace' means 'unmerited favour.' It cannot be earned. It was freely given and she had trampled on it. Literally.
Catherine bowed her head in the office with its shut door as she pondered on the penny. Symbolically she had shut her heart in ignorance, but now it was opened. D.G. was like an affirmation that she lived each day because of God's grace. Over the years the Mint had produced more than 35 billion pennies, which she chose to view as 35 billion reminders of God's grace raining upon this huge land, blessing the entities who used the coins.
Yet it is inscribed not only on the penny but on every coin in the money system, the sum total of which was too overwhelming to even begin to imagine. She had never given thought to the symbols and engravings on the penny, but now enlightened, Catherine could not go back to her previous oblivion. Like most people who experience a paradigm shift, her behaviour was changing.
Every penny reassured her of her relationship with God, and His favour. Catherine declared to herself that she would never let a penny's message be wasted again. Her personal mission now would include the unthinkable act of picking up pennies. For picking up pennies was a tangible reminder of God's goodness to her and she was thankful for this. Picking up a coin was an acknowledgement of God's blessings that she so did not deserve.
Catherine's OOB exercise was sobering. When she shared it later that week she would not be expecting anyone to adopt her mission, but change driven by passion always ignites respect. This was her personal OOB success. She would never scorn little coins again.
She would pick up any penny, appreciate any penny. Not to become wealthy but to become richer. Richer by the grace of God.
Find out more about Susan Harris at www.susanharris.ca