“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”

  — Mother Teresa

I was reminded this morning of the immense value in engaging in small acts of kindness.  A thank-you card I once received, for something I didn’t feel warranted a card, said, “Don’t say that it was nothing, because it meant everything to me.”  How often do we feel that the small acts of human kindness we toss into the world have little value?  How often, when we are on the receiving end of such gifts, do we feel incredibly blessed and filled with gratitude?

What got me thinking about this was a phone call from my sister.  She and our other sister have been doing the necessary job of sorting through our Dad’s belongings and deciding which of them will move with Mom to her new apartment in the Alzheimer unit and which will be donated to people who might use them.  Some things don’t fit either category; and these are the things we must decide to keep or to discard.  Among the things Ann was sorting this morning was a stack of cards from Dad’s 91st birthday last January.  They were from my friends — you know who you are — and as she read through each of them, she felt compelled to call me.  “Do you want me to save these for you?”  What a good question that was!  At the time they landed, Dad was not feeling too well.  In the beginning, he was a bit confused by where all these cards were coming from; but after a few days, he would tell me the names of the people who had sent them.  I was curious to know what the messages said, but he was not up to reading them during our phone calls.  Today they were read.  First, Ann read them and then she called me and read them over the phone.

To say that I was touched by your kindness in reaching out to an old man who was, as it turns out, celebrating his last birthday would be to trivialize your small acts of love.  They must have been special to Dad, too, because six months later they still were in his room.  I wanted you to know that I love every one of you for loving my dad, even though most of you never knew him.  And when my sister read me all the nice things you had to say about me to my dad, I felt a little embarrassed until I realized that your kind words reassured him that I would be okay when it was time for him to leave.

The point of all this is that often it takes only a few minutes to perform a small act of love, but the ripples that flow outward as a result can continue to touch people with kindness for months or even years — long after we have forgotten that we ever acted at all.  I think the message in this is to put aside a few minutes each day and do a small act of kindness for someone who crosses your path.  It takes very little effort, and you never know whether that person will tuck your love away in their heart — like a stack of birthday cards — and pull it out now and then when love is in short supply.

Our world is suffering from a lack of love; but our small acts can fill it.  All we need to do is remember that something that feels like nothing may mean everything to the heart that is empty.  Thank you from the bottom of my overflowing heart for your small acts that added up to a big pile of love.