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TITLE: Coin in the Fish's Mouth
By Ethel Ashe-Frear

An intriguing, spellbinding, bizarre twist in this story will lead you through a series of mysterious events surrounding the strange appearance of a watch lost 3 years earlier.
The drive was deadly this evening. I noticed patches of ice as I drove up the darkening four lane highway. Checking my watch it was after 6 p.m. The snow was blowing forcefully toward the windshield making the driving more hazardous than I had first anticipated in my old 1985 car.

The drive from Maryland to Pennsylvania to visit my parents was always a big adventure for the kids. The 150 mile journey with my two youngest children ages six and seven proved to be anything but boring. Intermittent laughing and arguing permeated from the back seat. The noise seemed extra loud inside the hot stuffy car.

We arrived late in the evening. After getting the car unloaded and the kids fed and settled in front of the TV with my Dad, Mom and I were pleased to have a couple hours to ourselves, catching up on all the family business.

The next morning leaving Dad as the babysitter who loved to be with the grandkids; we drove to the nearest grocery store.

“Since you elected me to cook for the crowd of relatives coming for supper, we need to buy a special cake mix for desert,” I said.

“The food always tastes better when someone else does the cooking!” Mom quickly replied.

After dinner, leaving the dishes to family who did not help prepare the meal, I decided to run as many sidewalks as possible in Garden City where my parents recently bought their home. I was determined to keep up with my marathon training.

The weather had turned quite warm and it had been an unusually hot day for early November. As I ran, I dodged abandoned bicycles, navigated narrow alleys, barely avoiding a couple dogs that seemed to enjoy chasing moving objects.

Heat, rain, snow, ice, didn’t matter to me. This was my quiet time to reflect on many subjects. When negative ideas begin to flood my thoughts, I learned how to counter attack by reciting a variety of Bible verses committed to memory. There was power in the word of God and it restored my sense of well being. Running was for the body and the word of God for the spirit.

When I returned to the house, I checked my running time. I noticed my watch missing. A frown on my face, and a little confused, “How could that have happened?”

Dashing into the house, slamming the screen door behind me, I nearly collided with Mom standing in the living room. “I seemed to have lost my watch somewhere.”

“Maybe I had lost my watch where we had shopped for groceries,” I thought to myself

Mom said, “We should return to the store and look around. Maybe someone found your watch and turned it in to the store manager.”

I thought to myself, “Not likely. Anyone finding a gold watch would probably keep it.”

We arrived late at the store just before closing. We searched up and down the aisles one after another, carefully retracing our steps covering every area where I had purchased groceries. I then stopped to ask the store manager if anyone had found a watch.

He said, “No one has turned anything in. Give me a phone number and I’ll let you know.”

Arriving back at the house, we looked under the car seats, down the upholstery, in the glove compartment; we searched the yard, the garage, and all around the block where I had been running. Next we tackled the house. We looked under furniture, pulled out drawers, and checked all the clothing and luggage I brought with me. No watch!

I turned to Mom discouraged, “It’s probably gone for good!”

Many times over the years, off and on, I thought about my watch. I’m not sure why? I guess because I purchased it for myself and I was not in the habit of buying anything for myself, let alone a watch. It was for me a special luxury. I had looked at several different styles and shapes, taking time in my selection. I finally decided on a small gold watch with a delicate oval face and a little black suede band.

A friend returning from a visit to a monastery out west brought me a surprise gift. It was a tiny blue dove, not bigger than the smallest fingernail, which I attached to the corner of this watch.

For the next few years, I was in regular attendance at a synagogue located in Rockville, Maryland. This is no ordinary synagogue – it was Messianic, where many Jewish folks believe Jesus is their Messiah.

In the middle of the week we met at this synagogue for Bible study and prayer. This particular Wednesday I was early and the only person in the building. I walked downstairs to the basement level and over to the corner where the sofa was located. I decided to read while I waited for the others to show up. I slid behind the coffee table and as I moved sideways in order to sit down, I heard this little tap on the floor. Looking immediately down, I saw a watch lying face down on the floor. I realized later had I not heard that small tap I may have stepped on it.

My first thought was, “Someone has lost their watch and I will return it to them.”

As I reached down and picked it up turning the face of the watch over in my palm, what I saw took my breath away. For a moment, I was confused.

“This was the watch I had lost in Garden City, Pennsylvania several years ago. How in the world did it get here?”

Attached to the edge of the watch was my little blue dove. There was no mistake this was my lost watch.

Sitting around a long study table in the prayer room, I tried to find adequate words to explain my lost watch to the group and how it had disappeared while I was running around the streets in Pennsylvania. These are folks who are accustomed to a miracle or two during the week, accept the Bible as the written word of God, and are not embarrassed to talk to others about their transformed lives.

I passed the mysterious watch around in silence. Each person in the group touching it with wonderment, holding it gently as one would any sacred object. No one spoke, afraid to break the amazement we all felt at that moment.

Finally, Keith, one of the young Jewish men in the group offered an explanation. “Remember the story in the book of Matthew chapter 17?"

Jesus said, “Peter go to the lake and drop in a line; pull up the first fish you hook, and in its mouth you will find a coin worth enough for my temple tax and yours; take it and pay our taxes.”

Keith continued, “Maybe that’s how your watch re-appeared the same mysterious way.”

Everyone in the group nodded their head in silent agreement.
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