I can still feel the warmth I felt in my heart when I read this story recounted by Gayle D. Erwin. Chad was a shy quiet boy. Many times his friends teased him and made fun of him. He was never included in their company. One day however he arrived home and announced to his mum that he will be making a valentine card for all his classmates.
The heart of his mother sank. She thought, “I wish he wouldn’t do that!” She knew what was going to happen. He would be giving his companions a Valentine card and he will get none in return. Her son will be devastated.
However, hoping against hope that she may be wrong, she decided to go along with her son and she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three full weeks, Chad dedicated all his free time to compose thirty five colored valentine cards. He was so excited!
Valentine Day arrived. He carefully put all the cards in his bag and dashed to his school. The mother was in a panic and to soften what she taught would be a total disappointment, she decided to bake his favorite cookies so that when he came back, she can somehow raise his spirits.
She was really anxious that afternoon. The cookies and milk were ready on the table. From the sitting room window, she saw it all. The boys and girls were walking gleefully while her little Chad, as usual, was at the back, on his own. They were all pleased and sharing the cards they had received. Her son’s arms however were empty. He knew it! She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside.
So, you can well imagine her surprise when he walked in with his face all aglow. He was excited as he repeated to his mother over and over again, “Not a one. Not a one.” A feeling of hopelessness enveloped her. But her despondency turned to delight when she heard him saying joyfully, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”
You see, love is never about oneself. Love is all about others. Love is choosing to do right no matter how you feel. As the last Father of the Church, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux once said, “What is the highest, most exalted act of intelligent life? It is to love. Love seeks no cause, no end, no reward beyond itself. I love because I love; I love that I may love.”
Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa said: “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. And love your friends. Love them without measure.”
This is what makes life meaningful. Going through Sower’s Seeds by Brian Cavanaugh, I remember reading the significant story of a man who risked his life swimming through treacherous sea currents to save a young adult from being swept out in the sea. The moment the young boy recovered from his traumatic experience, he started to thank the man. However the man just looked into the boy’s eyes and said, “That’s ok, son. Just make sure your life was worth saving!”
Our life acquires value and meaning only in the measure that we love. During World War I, a soldier came back from the continuous fire going over him, to realize that his comrade must have fallen on the battlefield. He immediately asked his Captain whether he can go back and bring him back. The shooting was still bad and so the Captain refused permission. However the soldier did go and somehow he managed to find his companion and drag him back to their own dugout. The captain was mad, more so when he realized that the companion was dead
“I told you it is ridiculous,” he yelled. “Your friend is dead, and now you are seriously wounded. Was it worthwhile?” And the answer of the soldier was amazing in its simplicity, “Yes, Sir. It was worthwhile. When I arrived at him, he was still alive and he looked at me and said ‘Jim, I knew you would come’. These were his last words!”
You can never overestimate the power of love. It is a fire that, once lit, may burn forever. In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Do not waste your time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor. Act as if you did. As soon as we do this, we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”
A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on ‘The Love of God’. As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next the two injured hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the sanctuary.
There was nothing else to say.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.