This Valentine’s Day, with record cold hitting New York City, we found ourselves surrounded by the warmth of new friends. Sr Katie shares about the afternoon:
It started with a simple idea from a friend: “let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day! ” she said. “Do you want to come over to my house or shall I come over to yours?” At first, we were tempted to dismiss the idea, because we had no idea what we would do at a Valentine’s Day party. But then it hit us – why not make valentines for our friends in the nursing homes we visit each week? There is nothing better than getting a card, just because, to say “you are loved” – don’t we all need to hear that more often?
So we invited a few women over to our house who all need to hear this simple truth as much as they need to say it to someone else. Every week, Joanna and I visit a homeless shelter here in our neighborhood and everyone there is struggling with burdens that we can’t imagine, with labels that seem stuck forever and constant reminders that they are on the margins of society. As we’ve been trying to be faithful in simply showing up each week, we are always looking for ways to open up these simple encounters into deeper friendships. In this age of instant gratification, I’m often unaware how much I personally want this to happen right away, in a dramatic, “lightning bolt” sort of way. But love, real love, takes a lot of simply showing up for the little things.
Of course, we didn’t plan on it being the coldest day in New York city in a hundred years! But even though the cold kept away some people, there were a few brave souls who made it, even bringing a friend at the last minute. At first, everyone looked at us a little funny when we suggested making valentines with bible verses about love. Then someone found the glitter, and suddenly we were kids again – cutting out red hearts on construction paper and making glitter hearts and gluing on sparkles! Suddenly it wasn’t about us, and we were thinking about who would receive these valentines and what they said inside: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor present things, nor future things nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38) At the end, I heard someone say: “wow, it’s been so long since I’ve done something like this. It’s nice to do something beautiful for someone else, and to be here in such a peaceful place.” Isn’t that how the best friendships start – with the little things?