Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Open the shoebox of unlimited love.
As a grown-up, Valentine's day is a little different experience--depending on your relationship status. But given we are less than a week away from the day of pink and red, that wonderful day when women hope for flowers and special things that say, "I love you", and men just wish the day would go away, I'd like to write about gestures of love.
Valentine's Day in grade school offers a unique opportunity to express sentiment. Choosing the valentines, personally signing each one, trying to get the envelopes to seal--it was exciting! Who didn't want a shoebox full of valentines?
There is a powerful lesson in that shoebox of love: reciprocity.
I had a shoebox of valentines regardless of what class I was in or what school I was attending. We moved a lot. A LOT. But every Valentine's Day offered the same experience. I gave gestures of love and I was given gestures of love. Abundantly. (Apart from the valentine from Chris Freed, the boy I liked, who said he was glad I was moving.)
My point is, we can make a real, positive, and powerful difference in each other's lives with gestures of love. And the love will come back to us. Far more than a shoebox full of 30 valentines. A shoebox full of unlimited love.
Kelsie went to the children's hospital for her volunteer work yesterday. Her story follows.
"I had just returned to the playroom when my supervisor asked, "Will you take this keyboard and go see Ana? She was sleeping when the other volunteer went in her room." I finished picking out some nail polish colors and made my way to the Neuroscience Trauma Unit. When I arrived nurses were moving her to another room. One nurse was speaking rapidly in Spanish to Ana and her mother, and others had IV poles. The nurse told Ana that I was there for her, mentioning the keyboard I was holding. Ana got up and rushed to my side, wrapping her arms tightly around me for several seconds. Her embrace was so warm and so genuine. I was overcome with love--the love I felt for her and the love I felt from her. She looked up at me and spoke with both deep gratitude and excitement. In her broken English she said, "Thank you so much for coming!!"
Ana's nurse and I each held her hands as we walked down the hall to her new room. She was so joyful and exuberant, just beaming light and love, smiling at everyone. She told me her family came here from Peru two years ago. We chatted about school, boys, her favorite foods, and what she liked to do for fun. I asked her about the piano and she told me she played by ear, but only with her right hand. I felt like we were long lost friends.
When we arrived at her room, her lunch had arrived but she had no interest in eating. She said, "I really like Lady Gaga, I'm going to play a song." Then sitting down to the light-up keyboard Ana played the melody of "Bad Romance" from beginning to end. She turned to look at the small audience of her mother and me and we burst into applause. I gushed over her performance, telling her what a wonderful job she did. I was amazed. She smiled widely, wondering aloud what to play next. "Do you know any hymns?" I asked. She faced the keyboard again and began a beautiful rendition of my favorite hymn. I sat there with tears in my eyes, marveling at this young woman, feeling SO much LOVE for her!
The nurse came in to alert her of a procedure. So I said goodbye, telling Ana how happy I was to have met her, and that she was so beautiful and so special. She embraced me again saying, "It was so nice to meet you too, and hope I can see you again soon."
Ana has a rare and degenerative disease with a prognosis of early onset dementia. I feel so sad that this beautiful soul is having to struggle so much. I felt blessed and touched by her love. What sort of world would it be if the people we met, we loved instantly? What if, like Ana, we embraced everyone like a long lost family member? How much better would we all feel, just because we LOVE?"
Love heals. It strengthens and uplifts and gives hope. Kelsie came home from her experience filled with the love of God. In offering her self in service, her heart was moved. And having been touched by Ana, Kelsie came home understanding in a brand new way the power we have to impact each other for good.
Open the shoebox of unlimited love.