As most of you probably know, I have a 5 year old daughter and an infant son. My daughter is in kindergarten and is enrolled in something they call the “Patriot Program” at her school. Basically, it is an extra-curricular activity in which the kids learn all sorts of things about their country. One of the things they are required to do is to come up with and do some type of a service project.
My wife is a member of the Soroptomist Club, and they were going to be helping out at a local nursing home here in Havre de Grace around Valentine’s Day. So my daughter (with some help from my wife) came up with the idea of making homemade Valentine’s Day cards for the residents. They also used some of my son’s old baby food containers (after they washed them out), painted them, and used them as flower pots, making “flowers” out of pipe cleaners.
The plan was to give these gifts out when the Soroptomists were at the nursing home. But wouldn’t you know it, it snowed on the date they were supposed to go and the trip was postponed. They rescheduled it for one week later, but sure enough it snowed again and the whole activity was cancelled.
So my wife had to make arrangements to go to the nursing home on our own so that my little girl could hand out her presents. We finally got this scheduled for this past Saturday (closer to St. Patrick’s Day than Valentine’s Day, but nobody seemed to mind once the explanation was given).
Everything was going pretty predictably until we met a lady named Josephine. Josephine was sitting in a wheelchair, stationed in the hallway just opposite the nurses’ station and outside what appeared to be a small activity room. My daughter handed Josephine her presents, but Josephine immediately started crying profusely and tried to give them back.
At this point we were terrified that we somehow did something horribly wrong. Somehow we must have offended Josephine and seriously hurt her feelings. A lady who was standing next to her (who I assume was a nurse, but definitely staff), leaned over to Josephine’s ear and told her that the presents were for her. My poor daughter just stood there, somewhat awestruck, not knowing what to do. The concept of someone giving BACK a present surely does not exist in the mind of a 5 year old.
Josephine was crying out something that I couldn’t understand for a while, and the kind lady next to her just kept explaining that my little girl was giving the card and the gift to her. Josephine, though, just kept on crying.
Then something came through crystal clear. Josephine looked at my daughter and said through her tears, “You love me!” She repeated this over and over. “You love me! You love me!” They weren’t tears of sadness. They were tears of joy. This lady probably did not have many visitors. I don’t know who put her in that home, or whether she still had any family to care for her. All I know is she was starving for love and it came in the form of a little 5 year old girl she had never met before. That simple act of love meant the world to her, and she couldn’t stop herself from breaking down.
Sometimes I get so caught up in all the logical arguments for Christianity that I tend to forget that one of the greatest gifts Christ gives us is His love. No amount of argumentation is ever going to make someone feel it. Love is something that is shared, not by intellectual debate, but through acts of kindness. So for all of you out there who, like me, thrive on discussing ontology versus epistemology, the Big Bang, the Euthyphro dilemma or the law of non-contradiction, I encourage you to take a step back and go out to perform some act of Christian love. After all, sometimes love is the best apologetic in the world.