“Love never fails…And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:8,13
In my twenties I worked at a residential … treatment home for children ages 6-12 who were emotionally disturbed because of severe abuse. It had all the downsides of being an institution; that slight ammonia smell, linoleum floors everywhere except the living room, a window to pick up your food and to put your empty plates back after meals.
However there were ways to soften that institutional feel. We had a little club and read books to the kids. Miss Piggle-Wiggle served peppermint tea, so we had peppermint tea, for girls who had been especially good; pink sponge curlers, soft robes, fuzzy slippers snuggling with staff and staying up very late to watch a movie, little notes hurriedly written on strips of notebook paper (I love your smile, or you make me laugh) still clutched in their hands an hour later.
Friday was party night. Many children had compassionate and brave relatives that took them for the weekend but some had to stay all the time. Children have a stage in life where they love corny, make no sense jokes. Before I arrived on the scene I assume some beleaguered staff member made a rule that corny jokes were only to be told on Friday nights, party night and at no other time. On one of these party nights we went to my house and laid blankets in the backyard and looked up at the stars and told corny jokes.
The children’s thoughts began to rise above the earth and they started asking questions about God, Jesus, Heaven, Hell and angels. I answered their questions according to the regulations my supervisor set forth. Even so their excitement, curiosity and persistence to know more about Jesus became too much for the powers that be and I was let go. As per protocol every staff member who left for any reason had a goodbye session. Staff, children, and I sat in a circle between the couches in the living room with a single Kleenex box in the middle. We choked and sobbed our goodbyes. And then I was gone. The message? It’s an ancient message really; no matter the length of time you have with a person or how simple your acts of love: pink sponge curlers, peppermint tea, little notes on torn scraps of paper, looking at the stars; The message is… you make a difference, you matter, love never fails.
By: Sherrie Evans