Loving the Littles

This Valentine’s Day I am thinking about Love in all its forms as I send cards and greetings to my beloveds. I think of God, who is Love– a very Big thought! But right now I am a little overwhelmed with Bigness—Big award shows: big wins, big losses; Big games: big scores and big heroes; Big Olympics: big achievements and big disappointments. I long to practice a love that is my size, that fits me, just little, yet still is a part of the Love that is God.

I see God’s love in the little things of creation, in the small shoots of green that tell me that Spring will be coming before long, in the wild crying of the disorderly formation of birds soaring on the currents, in the chattering squirrels who race up and down the phone wires, in the hummingbird who frequents the roses,  in the variety of  flowers and plants that I can find just in my own neighborhood.

And in my neighborhood I am touched by the little gestures of love that pop-up from place to place. I love the elderly and frail neighbor who makes sure that the trashcans are put back where they belong, and the courageous neighbor who calls the city when sidewalk repairs have gotten out of hand or trees have not been trimmed. I love the neighbors who keep an eyes out for each other, and who are ready to give help when a server goes down or when somebody falls or when someone inadvertently leaves her garage door open.

I feel loved so often through the little things. I remember a childhood poem:

Little drops of water, little grains of sand make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land. Little deeds of kindness, little words of love make our earth an Eden like the heaven above. (Mrs. J.A. Carney, 1843)

And it is in the “littles” that I sense the presence of the Holy One. An affirming message is left on my answering machine. A small gift of that demonstrates that I have been heard and valued. Or I get to be be a witness to an act of Grace or Courage or Kindness. Henry James the American novelist, is reported to have said, “There are three things in life that are important. The first is to be kind, the second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.”  How many acts of kindness I observe every day. This week in the carpool line the  attendant takes extra time to strap in the little one. A friend drives all the way across town in evening traffic to share a  meal. Someone drops me a thank you note. A companion accompanies me, so that I don’t have to walk alone, still not completely sure of my balance. Kindness, a little drop of cold water.

I will be alone this Valentine’s Day because of the snowstorms in the east. My husband who has been my traveling partner since Valentine’s Day, 1960, is snowed in at an airport on the other side of the country. But his acts of kindness–texting, Skyping, calling–for his sake as well as mine, help me know that despite the separation, I am loved. And his love is a manifestation of the Big Love that is God’s Love for me. It is in the little love of humans that I feel the concrete expression of the love from Holy One–forgiveness, patience, presence, and a love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

This Valentine Day I am looking for little ways to be love to my world–a little check for a hurting world, a little smile on my daily rounds, and a little prayer for  hearts  and bodies that suffer. They are the little things we do for Love.

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