February 5, 2021

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

No act of love is too small to go unnoticed by God

Patti LambFor Christmas, the St. Susanna Women’s Club gifted all parishioners with devotionals from which to choose. The book I selected from the table was Do Something Beautiful for God: The Essential Teachings of Mother Teresa.

I opened the book to one of my favorite quotes by St.Teresa of Calcutta: “There are no great things, only small things with great love. But those small things done with great love become the source of great joy. I don’t do great things. I do small things with great love.”

My daughter saw my expression and asked, “What did you just read that made you smile like that?”

I let her read the quote, and Margaret said she sort of understood it, but not exactly. And she didn’t understand why it resonated so much with me.

I tried to think of a way to explain it to her, so I asked her a series of questions as we drove home.

“What’s one of your favorite Easter memories?” I asked.

“The Easter morning scavenger hunt that we do before leaving for Mass every year,” she answered, smiling as she remembered the time she discovered her Easter basket in the clothes dryer.

“What’s something you remember about Aunt Dolores?” I inquired.

Margaret used to go with me to visit my aunt when she was a toddler. After my Uncle Paul died, my aunt found herself needing routine assistance organizing pills and collecting groceries due to macular degeneration.

“Tootsie Pops!” Margaret immediately shouted, recalling the jar of suckers in the pantry from which Margaret would get to pick a sucker for the long ride home. She talked about how Aunt Dolores would always spoil her by sending her off with small treats.

Next, I asked Margaret to share a fond memory from summer.

“When Henry and I collected rocks in the yard, drew on them and set up a table at the end of the driveway and then sold them to our neighbors,” she said. She started to giggle as she added, “The Prices, the Stremmings and other neighbors were so nice and gave us quarters for bad artwork on rocks just to be kind.”

She recalled counting and sharing quarters with her brother and feeling a sense of accomplishment at 4 years old.

Margaret asked me why we were taking this trip down memory lane and wondered when I would circle back to answering her question about why Mother Teresa’s quote made me smile.

I explained that all the answers she gave me were basically the same. The things she remembered most were little things done with great love by kind people. Tootsie Pops, an annual scavenger hunt carefully planned with clues that rhymed, and neighbors who bought rocks and complimented “budding artists.”

That evening, I read the introductory paragraph of the book.

“It has been 20 years since Mother Teresa died. She died humbly while the whole world was looking the other way,” I read. “The world was obsessed with the death and funeral of Princess Diana, and Mother Teresa took that opportunity to slip from this world into the arms of her loving God.”

Sometimes, I think we all need this reminder about the impact of small acts of love delivered from the heart. Sharing love through small acts, most of which will go unnoticed until much later—if ever—while the rest of the world looks the other way is how we move closer to our eternal reward. No act of love is too small to go unnoticed by God.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

Local site Links: