It’s February 14th. I wasn’t reminded by hearts and Valentines chocolate in the aisle of every store here in Pachacamac. They didn’t get the put-out-valentines-candy-the-day-after-Christmas-memo here. In fact yesterday my walk in the 30 degree sunshine to 4 different tiendas in search of anything red or pink to decorate sugar cookies…proved fruitless. ‘No, no tengo.’ So our Valentine cookie project at the Juniper Tree Children’s home turned into gingerbread, stars, and bells, with blue sugar and grey candy to top them off. …and what did it matter that there wasn’t hint of pink? What a fun project to get to roll and squeeze and cut out your very own cookie shapes, maybe for the first time ever. No importa! that they weren’t hearts, that the dough was too sticky in the hot, humid air…there was love in that kitchen as little pairs of hands rolled and sprinkled and tried to wait their turn.
Little Micah* who had not too long ago been sleeping in a park, fending for himself, proudly held up his completed star and placed it on the cookie tray. He was carefully and patiently coached by his new ‘Mama P’ and this ‘gringo’ helper, how to share the rolling pin, to take turns with his brother, to not go too fast or add too much flour. Ooof so much patience needed for those little people.
After cookie making and a craft they headed out to play and I chatted with ‘Mama P” as she supervised the playground. Asking her how she came to add 4 extra to her family of one, and how she manages it all. Hearing how she and her husband had the same heart in wanting to move from their jungle home to step into the gap for these children at the Children’s Home. Every few sentences we were interrupted with hot little arguments, a shoe being thrown, a tumble and bumped knee. Patiently she encouraged, corrected, mediated, and managed the conflicts.
“Love is at its most necessary when we are weak, when we feel incomplete, and we must show love to one another at those points.” a friend shared in a facebook post this morning. It may not be the kind of love celebrated in store windows, it may not be the kind of love that first comes to mind with the word ‘Valentine’.
But this is the kind of Love that shines the brightest and most beautifully.
A giving Love.
And it points us to the Source and Author of Love. The One who is there to meet us in our weakest, in our greatest need.
“This is Love…not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and gave His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John :10
In her Nobel Lecture in 1979 Mother Theresa said it so beautifully and challenges my heart with these words…
“…God loved the world so much that he gave his son – it was a giving – it is as much as if to say it hurt God to give, because he loved the world so much that he gave his son, and he gave him to Mary, and what did she do with him?
As soon as he came in her life – immediately she went in haste to give that good news, and as she came into the house of her cousin, the child – the unborn child – the child in the womb of Elizabeth, leapt with joy. He was that little unborn child, was the first messenger of peace. He recognised the Prince of Peace, he recognised that Christ has come to bring the good news for you and for me. And as if that was not enough – it was not enough to become a man – he died on the cross to show that greater love, and he died for you and for me and for that leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and New York, and London, and Oslo – and insisted that we love one another as he loves each one of us.
And we read that in the Gospel very clearly – love as I have loved you – as I love you – as the Father has loved me, I love you – and the harder the Father loved him, he gave him to us, and how much we love one another, we, too, must give each other until it hurts. It is not enough for us to say: I love God, but I do not love my neighbour. St. John says you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbour. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbour whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live.
And so this is very important for us to realise that love, to be true, has to hurt. It hurt Jesus to love us, it hurt him. And to make sure we remember his great love he made himself the bread of life to satisfy our hunger for his love. Our hunger for God, because we have been created for that love. We have been created in his image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one – the naked one – the homeless one – the sick one – the one in prison – the lonely one – the unwanted one – and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.”
*Not his real name