“You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin; you shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” - Leviticus 19:17-18
Often we speak of love as if it were a feeling. Rather, it is a choice. A continual choice: a commitment to nurture the spiritual growth of ourselves or another. Yes, it is difficult to choose love when we have experienced so little of it. Nevertheless, we can choose love by taking small steps of self-giving love. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit – all these are little steps toward love. It may even involve taking more rest or better self-care so that we can better care for others.
St Thérèse of Lisieux reminds us that love lies not in the magnitude of the deed but in the totality of the self-giving. Mother Teresa puts it similarly: “We can do no great deeds, only small deeds with great love.” In choosing to love through simple self-giving deeds, we are acting into a new way of being. These small steps ground our love in the One who is Love, beyond our feelings.
“O Lord, help me to take the small steps of love I need to take today.”
inspired by Henri Nouwen