Not long ago while walking out of the grocery store, my unused coupons - that I had left loose on top of the cart - flew off in the stiff breeze all over the street. I didn't think I could recover all those clippings; cars would be coming through. Just as that thought escaped me another woman left her cart full of food and began to quickly collect my coupons with me. I had seen her in the store, analyzing prices just as I do. She had an intricate tattoo on her chest, like a necklace, that was hard to miss.
"Oh, thank you so much," I said.
"I get it," she said. "I have five kids, and it's such a pain to clip coupons, but then I just saved over $40 in there."
"I have four kids," I told her.
As she and a man, perhaps her husband, helped me gather my little slips of glossy paper and then gave them to me kindly, I admired her. Not for her colorful tattoo. Not even for the fact that she was a fellow mother who was frugally raising five kids. I admired her heart, and I felt the love of God.
Well, that's just silly, some might say. It was such a little thing, no great deed. But I assert that God is in every act of love and kindness and respect and sacrifice that human beings show and do for each other, whether they acknowledge his goodness behind it all or not.
A few years ago when my family had our car accident, I felt God's love coming from the man who simply asked if I was okay as he called 9-1-1. I felt God's love when the firemen spoke to my children in miraculously comforting tones. His love was there in the consistent kindness of the doctors and nurses. His love was streaming down my husband's face when I awoke from surgery. God's love was showered on my children, my husband and me in abundance by the generous and loving presence and actions of our friends and my mother-in-law as they supported us through it all.
Even when I suffered with emotional and mental turmoil afterwards, I felt God's love, as in the many phone conversations with my parents. I felt its healing, sustaining and teaching power through all stages of the trauma. I recognized God's love during a meal prayer when I asked him to please help me be kind to my husband, something I was not doing well at all amid all my medicated angst, and instantaneously God responded with an image of my husband's face on the day of the accident as he stood beside my gurney.
My confirmation saint, St. Therese ofn Lisieux, professed her way of following Jesus, calling it the Little Way. It was rooted in trust in God's merciful love and in showing love of God and others in her everyday actions, no matter how menial or small. It was not about great deeds but about great love, and that is something I can get on board with, because I too feel like a spiritual child, not destined to perform great deeds for the kingdom of God as others are (though he may surprise me) but to do all that I can with abundant love for others each day, even if it is in a passing compliment, a small sacrifice, a little smile, a cheerful greeting or in listening intently when I wish to speak my own opinions. Mother Teresa said it so well: "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
And we can never underestimate love. In all its manifestations, great or small, it's the stuff of God. By showing love, respect and compassion for our fellow human beings, we demonstrate our love for God, drawing others closer to him.
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us; God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. 1 John 4:7-11 (NAB)
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." Matthew 22:34-40 (NAB)