One evening, my husband and I came home to find our kids playing with some of our neighbors in the backyard. We recently had put up a swing set, and that particular day we had just put up our basketball hoop. It was a nice surprise to come home to this impromptu party in our backyard. We handed out popsicles for the kids and beverages for the adults. It didn’t last too long, but it was good to connect with our neighbors like this.
As it was all winding down, one of my neighbors commented, “You know, this neighborhood was no fun before you guys moved in.” That one simple sentence has had me smiling ever since. While it’s nice to know that our neighbors like us, what is really cool to me is that somehow, we have managed to bring a bit of joy to our neighborhood.
I don’t feel like we put much effort into bringing our neighborhood together, as we’ve often thought about having a little dinner party or a cookout—but we have yet to actually do it. I think back to what we could have done to earn us that comment, and I really can’t come up with much at all. It seems we didn’t have to do anything big and crazy to create a feeling of happiness amongst our neighbors.
Mother Teresa says, “Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
I get that. If you try to do too much (like having a neighborhood party), you get tired and stop doing anything. If you do small things (like handing out popsicles and drinks), you do not tire and can keep doing them—and those small things accumulate!
Bottom line is, don’t wear yourself out trying to show love and kindness. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Set the pace with small things every day, and in the words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, “Do small things with great love.”
Side note: I came across this other quote from Mother Teresa (there are so many good ones!) that I really like: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Remember that the next time you’re having a conversation with someone. Something as simple as saying, “That dress looks really nice on you,” can keep someone smiling the whole day and every time they wear it!
Inspired by the words of Mother Teresa or St. Thérèse of Lisieux? Here are just a couple of titles from Franciscan Media for further reading:
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