Go on ahead of me
I must lead softly on
The tender flock around me
Cannot run the whole day long
And if you climb to greater heights
We'll follow at a pace
That children and the lambs can walk
Just step by step in grace
Then together on that day
We'll meet you at the gate
For I must lead on softly
Until the break of day!
Softly With the Lambs by Peter Caligiuri copyright 2022 all rights reserved
And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” Mt 10:42 NKJV
Last year about this time I was finally realizing that my wife would not be home for Valentine’s Day. Nancy had left just before Christmas to fly 3,000 miles to California to take care of a sister who lived alone and had been hospitalized after a terrible fall. Diane’s diagnosis was not good, and her rare lung disease (ILD) was rapidly taking away her strength. Though I missed Nancy, I was also so proud of my wife who was such a champion through all the months of missing Christmas with her grandchildren, losing sleep and holding up under the pressures of becoming a caregiver. When I just happened to stop at the Walgreens to pick up a prescription, I noticed the fancy heart shaped boxes of chocolate candy and decided to send one along with a card for Nancy. As I dropped the candy into my cart I paused and decided that just for fun I would pick up a second smaller box for Diane and I picked out a card for her as well.
After dropping the Valentine’s stuff in the mail that afternoon, I pretty much forgot all about it, till a few days later. The phone rang and my wife’s happy voice on the other end reminded me how much she loved chocolates and that my little gift was just what she needed that day. As we spoke, I could hear Diane in the background saying something I couldn’t make out, then Nancy paused and said, “Just a minute Diane has something she wants to tell you.”
As I listened to the sound of the phone being passed, wondering what could be so important, Diane’s voice with the happiest tone I had ever heard came on the line. “Peter, thank you so much for sending me the card and the chocolates! Do you know that you are the first person in my life who ever sent me a box of candy for Valentine’s Day?”
I tell this story, not because i want anyone to think I did some tremendous act of kindness, but to encourage you to know the value of the smallest kindness you can show another person. It is rarely the cost of the gift you are giving, but about the demonstration of love that tells them, you matter, you have value and I remember you. On Valentine’s Day we do special things for our spouse or for someone we love. This year, why not remember that it is also an opportunity to show God’s love to someone who is alone. That small kindness tells them that God remembers and values them. It might be a small box of chocolates, a handful of flowers or even just a cup of cold water but is precious to Jesus and something that He promises will never lose its reward!
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
Luke 12:6 ESV
Still in the grip of a pandemic after two years it is time to decide what matters most. We cannot continue as if all will return to normal. We must choose what is valuable enough to live for in spite of a risk that will never go away. Jesus tells us that, while 5 sparrows had almost no value to people, every one mattered to God. In the same way, the spiritual life of those in long term care has been undervalued during the pandemic. While their basic physical needs of food, medicine and clean clothes are filled, their hunger for the presence of family, friends and neighbors has been denied. Spiritual needs of someone to pray with or receiving communion are forgotten, though their room is still mopped and lunch is served. Of course we volunteers should be held to the same standards as those who are paid to care for physical needs of residents, but we must not give up on seeking ways to serve. Remember that when God gives us green pastures and still waters it is not without a cost. Is what we do for others worth giving our lives as well? The love of Jesus at Calvary gave value to our lives far above sparrows. How can we not do the same for our precious brothers, sisters, neighbors and friends in long term care?