“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.”

— Mother Teresa

Today I wrote a letter.  It was long overdue, but there is no statute of limitations on gratitude.  It was a thank-you note of sorts, sent to someone’s superior to compliment a job done well.  Those of you who know me are aware that most of my summer was spent on the road with a rag-tag bunch of teenage girls who want to be basketball players.  We road-tripped from motel to motel, fast food to buffet, and tournament to tournament for the better part of two months.  The adults who traveled, under the guidance of the coach, did our best to show our girls more that just basketball courts.  We wanted them to see colleges, cities, and people who were far removed from their experience.  We wanted to broaden their view of what the world had to offer so they could better imagine what they might offer back to the world.

On one such leg of our trip, we found ourselves in Springfield, Massachusetts.  It had been a long day — first a basketball game and then a trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame.  Dinner was over, and this old grandma was more than ready to slip away to the motel room for a shower and about 100 winks.  “Let’s go to UMass!” the coach proclaimed.  ‘What?’ I thought.  ‘Are you crazy?  It’s practically bedtime.’  But off we went, loading as many girls into our minivan as space would allow.  By the time we reached the campus in Amherst, the sun was already beginning to set.  At 7:45 PM we walked into the incredible Recreation Center.  The girls’ eyes grew wide as they took it all in.  It was an athlete’s dream — weight rooms, cardio equipment, mirrored areas for dance and exercise classes, an indoor track, and a huge gym with a sparkling floor and the college logo in the center.  The coach approached the desk and asked whether we could tour the building.  The students on duty told him they were closing at 8:00 and already had begun to check out the students who had been there.  There would be no tour that day.

Then a man named Roger emerged from his office.  He would stay, he told us, and show us the center — his center.  For more than half an hour, we walked and he talked.  The pride in what he did just glowed from his face.  Every square inch of that building was dear to him, as was the campus beyond.  He spoke to the girls about campus life and their environmental initiatives.  He told them of exercise classes that were so popular that students stood in line early in the morning to sign up.  He told about interscholastic sports and about club teams for students who did not play at the varsity level.  And always he shared his enthusiasm for the job he obviously loved.

To him, I’m sure this seemed a small thing.  To us, it was an incredible gift.  How many of our athletes could see themselves playing basketball in that shiny new gym?  How many might have seen themselves on just such a campus, preparing for their lives while enjoying their sports?  How many might have pictured themselves as instructors or trainers, or even as Roger — the administrator of a facility where people could come to play and relax and stay fit.

It was a small thing, I suppose, for Roger to give a half-hour tour; but because he did it out of love, it had more impact than he ever could imagine.

Whatever it is that you might bring to the world, deliver it with love.  You never know who might be watching.