• February 17, 2016

A Valentine’s Surprise

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?

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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.

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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?

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