When you think of a nice thing to do for somebody, do you sometimes say to yourself, "Oh it's too much trouble, I don't have time, I'll do it later" – and then never do it?
My career in business gave me ample opportunity to follow carefully this message from the Bible: "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning..." (Ps. 92:1, 2).
I found that when I started my workday genuinely wanting to express more lovingkindness in everything I did, surprising opportunities would turn up – beyond what I had been hired for – to do some simple thing that made a difference in someone's life.
For example, when I worked as an organizer and administrator of management courses for business professionals, the applicants would include a photograph with their application to help the professors get acquainted with them. As I processed the applications, I also got acquainted with them; I memorized their faces, you might say. So on the first day I was able to greet about half of the course members by name.
This was such a success that from then on I made the extra effort to "memorize" all the course members. And what a glorious result. The insecurity many of these individuals had felt when they realized they were only one in a course of 50, facing 10 weeks away from home and office with none of their usual support mechanisms in place, simply dissolved. They were individuals, recognized.
The seeds of this commitment to taking the time to love were planted when I was 13 years old and developing an unpleasant attitude. My mother insisted I learn a particular poem. "Memorize this," she said, "and take it to heart." I did. These words stayed with me for many years:
"Ah, Lord, so often as I go, I blunder all unthinkingly into a chilling thought that shrivels dawning joy, as frost will blacken tiny tender buds – or just the slightest careless touch will mar the feathered wings of gorgeous butterflies.
"Teach me to love – that little children's eyes may light with confidence and joy when they meet mine.
"Teach me to love – that neither look, nor act, nor attitude of mine may take from those I meet one single bit of peace, one particle of joy.
"Teach me to be so radiant with love that I may pass in safety to and fro, nor leave one wistful thought in hearts I leave behind....
"And so, dear Lord, that I may be a blessing wheresoe'er I go – nor hinder any slightest thought from finding Thee – teach me to love" (Eunice M. Bronson, Christian Science Sentinel, Oct. 29, 1927).
This poem, a prayer actually, came into focus for me out of the far-distant past just before Christmas last year. I had been invited to a party where we were all asked to share something that had special meaning for us. And this prayer simply surfaced. I didn't find it in a file. It isn't in a file. It's in my heart.
I'm so glad to have encountered it again. In fact, these days it has become a sort of quality-control standard for my thoughts, acts, and attitudes. How unequivocally loving are they?
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote this about strong, unequivocal love, in her book, "Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896": "Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results" (p. 250).
How grand are my achievements in loving these days? Am I waiting until I have more time to do that little thing that will make such a big difference? No, it needs to happen now, this very day. The world needs it. There's always time for loving. And it's never too much trouble to do so.