"It's a gift for the first 50 customers today," said the person at the drug store checkout to me after I had made a purchase on my way to work last week.
I looked at the piece of paper in my hand and what first struck me was the phrase "5 million dollars." It was a lottery ticket!
I was so thunderstruck that I just said, "Thank you" and walked on. A lottery ticket as a gift!
For years, in private and at synods, I've trashed lotteries, and here I was with a ticket in my hand. I remember 20 years ago, after strong words from me in a charge to synod on the subject, some friends who thought I was seriously overreacting about it all bought some lottery tickets and put my name on them in the hope that I might win. I would then be rich and embarrassed, thus fulfilling both their goals for me.
But of course I didn't win. The United Church, in one of its annual submissions to the government of Saskatchewan, once pointed out that statistically you have a better chance of being murdered or struck by lightning in that province than of winning the lottery.
But in the five minutes it took to walk from the drug store to the office I suddenly found myself in high fantasy mode. Five million dollars! What couldn't I do with a wad of money like that!
Standing at the traffic lights I had created for myself the role of major benefactor, bestowing largesse on worthy bodies that would be eternally (well, nearly) grateful.
Normally, I am realistic to the point of being unimaginative, if not downright depressing. And here I was actually planning how to dispose of what I ought to know was a mirage.
However, by the time I got to my office door, reality had once again taken charge. …