One of my former students posted a request on Facebook this morning: "Please post a picture of an act of love." Of course he's taking a bit of harassment from people who find the suggestion, uh, suggestive. But I know what he meant, I think, because he's a very nice man, a teacher, a husband, a father. So his request set me thinking, which is a lovely reversal from the times I stood before him in a classroom and tried to challenge him to think.
I thought about a service club meeting I attended last night, and how many acts of love I witnessed in less than two hours. Here are a few of them:
1. A man in his thirties -- a medical doctor, from a country half way around the world, new to Memphis, new to his job as a professor, speaking his second language. He came to the meeting not knowing a soul there because he wanted to do something useful with his free time. "I want to help," he said as he applied for membership. "You people do good work."
2. A widow whose husband died only six weeks ago, who is refusing to believe that her own life is over. She also came to the meeting to consider membership in the group. Her husband used to be a member, and she is ready to continue his efforts in service to those in need.
3. Another young man -- a member this time -- pushing the club to donate to a fundraiser that will benefit sick children. His own two beautiful and healthy children sat there with him. He showed them the teddy bears he wanted us to purchase, bu made it clear to them that the bears would go to someone less fortunate than they. And they understood -- no crying or demands of "I want one!" We witnessed two acts of love here, I think -- children being taught well as well as an act of generosity.
4. A gay couple, open about their relationship and confident enough in it to live their separate lives -- not sitting together, following different interests, but still working as a team.
5. A married couple, old enough to have grandchildren but young enough to still be developing new careers. The wife presented her new business, confidently and well, while her husband sat in the back of the room, rooting for her and worrying for her.
6. A woman in her mid-eighties, independent, still working, reaching out to the neediest of our members with kindness and understanding.
7. And several members who were nominating others to be considered for awards. Not a one suggested himself.
Yes, Sean, you've made an important point. Acts of love are all around us. And you don't have to for Valentine's Day to see them.