Perry's father picked the coin up from the ground of their parking space and began to clean it with his fingers.
"Why did you do that, Dad?" Perry asked. "It's just a penny!"
"Because pennies matter," Dad replied. "You can have a penny all by itself, but you can't have a dollar without owning a penny, too. It is the ‘little bits' in life that are important, because they make up the ‘big bits.'"
"Yeah," Perry replied, "you can't have an ice-cream cone without milk, sugar, cream, and eggs." He grinned as he pushed open the door to the ice cream shop. "And chocolate!" he added. "That's the most important ‘bit' of ice cream."
"Really?" Dad smiled back at him and cocked an eyebrow when Perry asked for a waffle cone instead of a plain one for his chocolate-raspberry truffle ice cream. Dad ordered his favorite rocky road in a dish, and they sat down at one of the tables near the window.
"It's kind of like life," Dad said, and then he took a bite of ice cream.
"The penny, of course!" Dad said. "We were talking about pennies, weren't we?"
"Yes," Perry replied, licking at the ring of chocolate around his lips. "But I thought we were through with that subject. What's a penny worth anyway?"
"Well, not much these days," Dad said. "And yet, a penny is very important, because it is the base of our financial system."
"Yeah, but a penny isn't worth the effort of picking it up, is it?"
"Seemingly insignificant things add up to something important. Look at it this way," Dad said, taking the last bite of rocky road. "You can't have a solid character without the ‘little bits' of integrity, honesty, and thoughtfulness, can you?"
"I guess not," Perry replied, taking a thoughtful lick of his ice cream.
"Of course not!" Dad said. "Without the ‘little bits' of trying never to tell a lie, or apologizing if you do tell one, you'll never reach the more important trait of a great character. So the things we may think unimportant are very important after all."
"I gotcha!" Perry said, nodding. "Every penny helps make up a dollar and every dollar is important. So, the pennies are important, too."
"The fruit of the Spirit are the base for character," Dad said. They are found in the Bible, in Galatians 5:22. We'll look it up when we get home."
"Okay," Perry said, wiping his chocolaty mouth on a paper napkin and putting the napkin in the trash as they came to the door.
"Character traits such as patience, kindness, and self-control are the ‘pennies' in your character, Perry," Dad said, unlocking the car door. "Without adding more of the fruit of the Spirit, our character will always be small. I want you to have a big character, Son."
Perry got in the car and fastened his seatbelt. He looked out a side window as Dad backed out.
"You betcha, Buddy! That's why I pick up many a penny," Dad said.