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#Fast Fridays in # Lent: 3 Things I Have Received From the “Love” of Strangers

#Fast Fridays in # Lent: 3 Things I Have Received From the “Love” of Strangers

Quickly, off the top of your head, try to recall 3 times that a stranger has done something kind for you and it made all the difference in your life. Then say a prayer for each of those people. Then go an do likewise. Pay it forward with your kindness, courtesy, and willingness to help.

Here are my top 3 things I have received from the “love” of strangers…

1. Faith in Jesus Christ

In 1976, I attended an Antioch Weekend — a kind of Cursillo for teens — in other words, it was a youth retreat that was staffed by strangers. The leaders were young adults and college students in their early twenties. Somehow they felt called together to put on a weekend for a bunch of high school students that they did not know, for the sake of the Kingdom. They were not the first Christians I had ever met; I had been baptized a Catholic as an infant and attended Catholic schools. But they were certainly the most influential. Their willingness to share, pray, listen, and speak about Jesus Christ helped to bring the Spirit alive in me. I will never forget their willingness to meet new people and serve those who were not their friends, but strangers. Not a year goes by that I am not grateful for that community of young men and women who touched my life so deeply, and slowly evangelized me.

There are no strangers here;
Only friends you haven’t yet met.
–William Butler Yeats

2. Recovery

Twenty years later, I was 36 years old and still hospitalized suffering the effects of mastectomy and reconstruction surgeries. Somewhere around day 5 in the post-surgical ward, I had a total tearful breakdown and was just sobbing and sobbing. I was alone in my room. My husband and family were back at home getting rejuvenated after the many days of being at my bedside. Sometime that afternoon I became overwhelmed by everything that was happening to me. There was this nurse — all I remember is that her name was “Mickey” —  she was there just doing her job. I had a lot of meds, and tubes, and monitors and bandages that needed periodic tending.  She came along and found me in quite a state. She just sat on my bed and held me as I cried and cried. It was a long cry. I did not know this woman, and I never saw her again. She did not have to counsel me or embrace me or even stay beyond what her duty required. But she did all those things. That was 1996. I still remember her.

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren,
a tender heart and a humble mind.
1 Peter 3: 8

3. My credit cards

On more than one occasion, I have left a credit or debit card at a counter, or in an ATM machine, and the people nearby have tracked me down to return them to me. One situation happened in France when I got my card stuck in a toll taking device before entering a tunnel. This tunnel went under a city and really, there would be no returning to this exact spot. After pulling off through crazy traffic to the guard booth, I described my gaffe in a combination of broken French and some sign language. A kind woman toll taker had mercy on me. She bounded through the toll traffic, opened the device, and retrieved the card so my vacation could continue. Another unforgettable occurrence was years back BC (Before Cellphones). I had left my pocketbook in a public place and someone found my address and returned my bag and wallet by wrapping it up and sending it to me through the mail — still with the cash and the credit cards in it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, good people, for saving me from my own stupidity, and for saving me from the replacement hassles that come with such negligence on my part.

Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another
as God has forgiven you in Christ.
– Ephesians 4: 32

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Here’s a little more inspiration… those “little things” add up!

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And just in case you need an upbeat reminder about the whys of  Holy Week, here ya go…

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Previous #Fast Fridays:

Fasting

Fidelity

Midlife, Mid-Lent

Confession

Humility, why #Fast Fridays.

 

 

On the heels of my post “The Art of the Love Letter”, let’s hear it for acts of kindness in Marriage!

On the heels of my post “The Art of the Love Letter”, let’s hear it for acts of kindness in Marriage!

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I wrote “The Art of the Love Letter” last week to give men —  who think they’d rather show their love instead of talk about it — an insight into the heart of many women for whom the words of love are important. Yes, even long past the “honeymoon” stage of the relationship, there’s nothing like receiving a handwritten testament of the love of one’s mate. I made the case that in Catholic life both words and deeds are important because they reflect the sacramentality of our lives. We are both body and soul, and marriages are both physical and spiritual. Of course, a woman wants her man to demonstrate his love with the things he does, and while some men may balk, I continue to stand by the notion a love letter is a physical demonstration of their love for their wives.

By the same token, there’s no reason a woman shouldn’t compose a love letter to her husband or husband-to-be. So, of course, good women, write away! Just because I wrote my piece from a woman’s point of view, does not mean that woman could not return the favor in kind.

In fact, the point of this whole post, is that marriages need acts of kindness to support the relationships between husbands and wives. I’m happy to report that Frank Weathers at Why I Am a Catholic gives an excellent reply to the invitation to write a love letter for his wife by issuing his own Valentine’s Day challenge to the women…

As Pat Gohn shames us men into drafting epic love letters for our sweeties this year, will us men be rewarded in kind? Here’s an idea, ladies. We’re pretty easy to please… Bacon_Roses

…Think STOMACH! Just give him Bacon Roses.

Do read the rest!

Just today, the Wall Street Journal has an excellent article by Elizabeth Bernstein: Small Acts, Big Love” that describes that a recent study finds that “small acts of kindness boost marital satisfaction.”  The husband of the first couple cited in the article, Mr. Kline, mentions that he’s not one of those tell-her-I-love-her kind of guys…

Chris Kline doesn’t like to tell his wife of 17 years, Tara, that he loves her. He prefers to show her—by loading her favorite songs on her phone and warming up her car on cold mornings. While she was away on business recently, he surprised her by painting her home office in her favorite colors, Mardi Gras purple and gold.

“Saying ‘I love you’ is just words,” says Mr. Kline, a 42-year-old engineer from Shoemakersville, Pa. “I like to do things that require effort, planning and a little bit of sacrifice. It shows you are putting the other person first.”

Researchers call this “compassionate love”—recognizing a partner’s needs and concerns and putting them ahead of your own. “It’s not just making people feel good,” says Harry T. Reis, a University of Rochester professor of psychology. “It’s a way of communicating to the other person that you understand what they are all about and that you appreciate and care for them.”

Illustrations by Kyle T. Webster

Since 2009, Dr. Reis has been studying 175 newlywed couples from around the U.S., asking how they show their spouses compassion. His findings, not yet published, indicate that people who discover ways to regularly show their spouses this kind of love are happier in their marriages.

Small selfless acts between spouses aren’t just nice—they also are necessary, experts say. When acts of kindness and caregiving disappear, it is an indication the relationship needs help.

You’ll have to read to the end to see if Mr. Kline changes his perspective on using words of love to his wife… but I stand by my advice when it comes to love letters from husbands to wives. There’s a separate side bar that includes “10 Marriage Sweeteners” such as:

“Put your partner’s goals first. Giving your husband the last cupcake is easy. Spending your vacation—again—with his family is hard.

“Go out of your way to ‘be there.’ Pay attention when your partner seems particularly stressed and try to help.”

“Show respect and admiration. Celebrate successes, even little ones. Did your spouse handle a touchy situation well, or make you laugh? Point it out.”

Finally, here’s a video with tips from the article.

Happy Valentine’s Day!