by Kimberly Knowle-Zeller
Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
This past Sunday the younger youth of the church where I attend got together to make Valentine cards and then deliver them to residents at the two local nursing homes. My daughter, at 2, loves to color and put stickers on anything and she also loves people. It was a win-win for how we’d spend our afternoon.
As a pastor I’ve coordinated plenty of service projects and guided congregation members in reflection about why they serve and how we’re called to care and love our neighbors. On this day, however, I got to be the mom. I got to watch my daughter run around with the other kids, too excited to even eat her lunch. I got to see her smiles as she scribbled. I got to see the joy in stickers.
Once the Valentine cards were decorated we packed up and headed to the two nursing homes. The kids were excited to share their art work and love with the residents. They each grabbed a stack of cards and one by one a staff member guided us to each resident’s room. One by one a child would deliver a handmade Valentine card. My daughter also reached out her hand and gave the valentine cards to some residents.
I felt the love of resident after resident to whom we delivered a valentine.
I felt the love of all the children and their parents who took time to meet with their neighbors.
I got to sit back and watch the gifts unfold.
My two year old didn’t require a lot of teaching beforehand about what we were doing. She followed happily what all the other kids were doing. I didn’t have to overanalyze our time together or reflect on what made it work delivering Valentine’s. We just shared love. We brought ourselves to the card making and the delivering. We opened ourselves to seeing our neighbors as friends. We sang songs loudly sharing that Jesus Loves Us and to let our Little Light Shine.
It was card making but it was so much more.
Which reminds me on this Valentine’s Day that sharing love isn’t something we do, but is something that we are. Many times sharing love in community isn’t about getting everything right or having the right reflection or instructions; sometimes it’s just about remembering that we are loved first by Jesus and called to share that love with others.
Sometimes just by showing up we bring love.
Sometimes our smiles tell of a greater love than we could ever speak.
Sometimes love looks like a child getting a reluctant kiss and hug from someone he just met who was so overjoyed at receiving a Valentine.
Sometimes love comes to us in the smallest, loudest, and hopeful voices of children.
Sometimes we pray, Lord, open our lips, and our prayer becomes our love and gift to the world.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of a toddler, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. Her website is http://www.kimberlyknowlezeller.com