“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” -- Mother Teresa
On a shelf in my bedroom is a container a little bigger than a shoe box. It does not look terribly special, and often goes unnoticed as simply part of the décor. But this box is a treasure to me, what I call my “happy thoughts box.” It is filled with letters, cards, drawings, small gifts, audio tapes, even some deflated balloons. All these were given to me by special people in my life. They are simple words and small deeds, but they have great significance to me. There are notes scribbled in crayon by children I have taught, saying things like, “Roses are red, violets are blue. You teach very well and that’s why I love you!” A friend going through a time of personal crisis wrote, “Your friendship and love mean a great deal to me and have helped me get through the past months.” A Christmas card from a Japanese student in one of my ESL classes said, “Thank you for teaching English. I’m very lucky girl.” Some are simple things that bring a smile to my face, like a note from some dear friends whose dogs I often kept: “The dogs will be here Friday. Thanks so much. We love you!”
Some objects are mementos of acts of kindness. One card reminds me of the money I hadn’t asked for (but certainly needed) sent by a relative when I was a poor college student. A warm letter makes me think of the friend who spent an afternoon cleaning my apartment when I was in bed with bronchitis, surrounded by mountains of used Kleenexes. The deflated balloons in the box were part of a surprise from my coworkers on my last day at a previous job. A worship guide from a chapel service floods me with memories of being part of that service alongside a wonderful friend of mine who died of cancer a few months later.
Recently I have had new objects to add to my box, bittersweet mementos of a tiny patient whose brief life touched mine and many others during his months here in the hospital. I have been grieving for him, as have many other staff members who cared for him, but I am also profoundly grateful to have known him and his family. No other child was more loved or more loving, and that love did not die. Every one of us who delighted in his smile or felt his tiny fingers wrapped around ours still carries the warmth of his love. The objects in my box are tangible reminders for me of the power of such love, the difference it has made in my own life, and what my love has done in the lives of others. Whether or not you have an actual box, it is important for all of us to have a place to keep such “happy thoughts,” for the times when present circumstances pull us toward sadness. We need to be reminded then that we have loved and we are loved, a very happy thought indeed.
God, thank you for the people who love us. Give us eyes to see that love in the little things we take for granted every day. And most of all, thank you for loving us fully and unconditionally. Help us to hold on to that love when nothing else seems certain, and to pour our love into the lives of those around us. Amen.
-- Chaplain Stacy Sergent