By Barb Arland-Fye
An Iowa Hawkeyes wall clock in a box rested against my nightstand in the master bedroom, a surprise birthday present from my son Colin to his younger brother, Patrick. Colin could hardly contain his delight in his gift selection, even though he confided to me, “They didn’t have any Minnesota Vikings clocks.”
His small act of love came to mind as I listened during a Vision 20/20 mentor meeting to another participant, Francesca To, reflect on what it means to be a spirit-filled evangelizer. “Nothing is ever wasted if you put love into what you are doing,” said Francesca of Divine Mercy Parish in Des Moines County. She referred to the “little things” she does in her daily life that might seem insignificant at first.
I thought about the many small acts of love bestowed on me. My husband Steve turns on the small, portable heater in our bedroom on cold mornings to keep me warm. He massages my aching feet at the end of the work day and proofreads my stories on a moment’s notice.
Small acts of love happen when one of us gets up from the dinner table, without prompting, and washes the pile of dirty dishes, or when one of us saves the last banana for another family member’s breakfast. A small act of love happens each time one of us refrains from saying something hurtful to another person. We exchange a small act of love when we sing the “Fye Song” with Colin as a family before he returns home to his apartment. He loves that song; Patrick overcomes his embarrassment to sing it. We demonstrate a small act of love when we patiently listen to Colin, who has autism, and asks the same question multiple times for reassurance.
A small act of love happens every time Steve and our sons say grace with me before meals in a restaurant. We convey small acts of love when we invite a stranger to move ahead of us in a line at the store or when we give a compliment to someone for a job well done. We offer a small act of love when we visit with someone after Mass and listen to that person share a concern or worry.
I witness small acts of love daily and try to remember them as a reminder to “pay it forward.” Jim, a fellow parishioner, stands outside the church in the cold to load grocery bags from other parishioners for this year’s Thanksgiving baskets. Another parishioner’s young grandson receives Communion with reverence and joy. I remember when that child longed to receive Communion even as a kindergartner. His love for the Eucharist inspires me.
St. Therese of Lisieux set the example for us in the late 19th century with her “little way,” doing little things in the spirit of love. She let go of her ego to gift others with small acts of love.
Sometimes I wonder why Colin has to live with autism. Witnessing the joy he experiences in his small acts of love, which he gives without ego, helps me to see the greater gift that comes from God.
Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at email@example.com)