small acts, great love

It all began on Friday at 6:30 a.m.—witnessing little things done with great love—and became more apparent as the weekend continued. Strong winds throughout the night had made sleep difficult, yet the early morning hours brought a smile to my face. There is nothing like the aroma of pancakes and bacon wafting into the bedroom. No, Paul had not gotten up early this particular day to make breakfast, although I am the luckiest woman on the planet to experience a nutritious morning spread nearly every day, including eggs, Swiss chard, and a variety of fresh fruit. No, IHOP® had not gone mobile. No, this day my nonagenarian neighbor was performing her magic. Her husband, three adult children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild would highly agree that she has perfected a lifetime of culinary skills. She is quick to smile and add a story to complete her breakfast fare. I offered silent gratitude that she put so much of herself into an often taken-for-granted task. Source was in the thick of things. As Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Putting our hearts into whatever we do demonstrates a deep, pervading love that people feel, regardless of age or circumstance.


Preparing for dinner guests later that evening, I glanced out of the kitchen window and saw a man with a familiar gait. Each day, for the last two years, he walked. Regardless of weather, this fitness seeker’s route included the street that went past our house, over to other streets and downtown. Occasionally he would stoop to pick up litter and make a difference. One day, while running a few errands downtown, I met him on the sidewalk and stopped to thank him for picking up refuse. He seemed surprised that I had noticed. I’m walking anyway. It’s just a small thing that I can do, he said. What great love and compassion for Mother Earth. No expectations. It just seemed to be the right thing to do.


The next morning I attended a yoga class. Most yoga teachers offer verbal modifications for poses during yoga classes. From time to time, I try an Intermediate Vinyasa class to see if my muscle tremors will permit me to build more core strength. On this day, the asanas were still too demanding, and I sank into Child’s Pose, the premiere modification pose to regain breath and composure. To my surprise, several seconds later, I felt the warmth of the teacher’s hands soothing my spine, letting me know that she was aware that I was struggling and, regardless of my situation, that I had her support. This small act offered with great love brought tears to my eyes. Source was in the thick of things.


That afternoon I learned about how a couple I admire has been corresponding with a prisoner who is up for parole this coming spring. Once back in mainstream society, he will be trying to make ends meet with only a small disability check. Recently, he found out that his few possessions had been stolen. My friends contacted Friends Anonymous, a local group of people whose financial gifts have helped hundreds of people over the last eighteen years. The words of Margaret Mead guide this group of thirty altruists. “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.” In fact, it is the only thing that ever has changed the world. The organization, without judgment, offers limited financial means to people with no other way to access finances. Meeting monthly, the group tries to maintain a bank balance of $0. Cheers to my friends for offering great love without expectations and to Friends Anonymous for their behind-the-scenes love and work.


The next day I learned of a man who has changed his ways of thinking and habits. Since his wife died, he has become more aware and involved in life beyond himself. He is the quintessential volunteer and delights in putting first the good of others. Recently, he developed Shingles and is maintaining a positive life view, still seeking to help others. He knows the value of giving of himself.


The “Small Acts, Great Love” theme brought to mind yet one more example to end my weekend. One of my friends knits hats for people who have undergone chemotherapy for cancer. A sweet knitting fanatic, she began doing this when her own mother was diagnosed with cancer and lost her hair during treatments. When enough of us practice small acts of selfless love, we reach the tipping point of maturity and compassion. We recognize our connection with each other, know we are not alone, and see Source in the thick of things. Awareness is beautiful.



In the quiet moments: Set aside five or ten minutes a day to brainstorm simple ways to show great love by doing small things that require a minimal investment of time, personal effort or a change in attitude. Perhaps it’s reading to children. Or, listening, conversing, and hugging someone in need of a bit of nurturing. Maybe it’s simply smiling/saying hello to people on the street. No expectations or judgments allowed. Start now. Let me know what happens.



© 2015 in the thick of things

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