Every morning, as we wait in the drop-off line at school, my daughter Rose and I share a pack of belVita breakfast cookies.
It’s usually my breakfast, half of it siphoned off by an already fed but quickly growing 3-year-old who is about to have quite a full day in her pre-K classroom. I usually don’t mind sharing.
But lately, Rose began asking if we could bring two packs with us in the morning.
At first, I assumed it was so she could have her own, so I said no. But she kept asking, and then one day, she cleverly sneaked an extra pack into her backpack.
Right as I launched into a lecture about honesty and not sneaking things out of the pantry, Sister Mary Hannah — a Religious Sister of Mercy who teaches at the school — walked past our car. Rose hastily rolled down her window and thrust the extra pack of breakfast bars toward the startled nun.
Sister Mary Hannah chuckled, thanked Rose, and took the cookies, walking off with a big smile across her face.
Beaming, Rose turned to me and said, “See, Mom! I just wanted to share with Sister! Because I love her!”
She just wanted to share. Because generosity, at least in the hearts and minds of little children, is the priority. Especially when you love someone.
With all her gumption and strength, Rose was determined to offer something she enjoyed to a religious sister she sees every day and adores.
We are often told many stories about Sister Mary Hannah at dinner. Funny enough, she teaches the middle schoolers, and yet Rose only seems to have eyes for her.
She tells us about her “fun outfit” (her habit), how she’s really good at playing on the monkey bars (I’d pay big money to see a nun running around the playground), and Rose has more than once told us that Sister Mary Hannah is “the best prayer person I’ve ever seen!”
It’s a pure love for this nun that my daughter has, and one that I deeply admire. A love so great, in fact, that she wanted to share some breakfast cookies with her.
And isn’t that what love asks of us? Love asks that we share.
If we truly care for another, valuing them and honoring who they are, acknowledging their dignity and worth, then we must give to them. Give of our time, give of our treasure. Seek to serve them, in whatever small or big way that is needed.
And it took the persistence, and sneakiness, of my daughter wanting to give cookies to a nun that reminded me that I am not called to be stingy or hardhearted to those I love.
In fact, it reminded me that the love I am called to have for every single person is meant to be a generous love, a self-giving love, a love that responds and acts for their good.
It’s a love that doesn’t just ask, “What’s the bare minimum required of me in this moment?” But instead, a love that pours out: to build up, aid and care for others.
We often limit the love we give. We are not abundantly generous. We barely give. We offer leftovers, scraps or what we think we don’t need. On more than one occasion, I’ve thought, “I couldn’t possibly give this or that. … I don’t have enough of it myself.”
And yet, Jesus tells us to give of our first fruits, not the mere leftovers. The widow, who offers her only two coins is more faithful — loves the Lord more — than the wealthy man who drops in his spare change.
Rose didn’t want to give Sister Mary Hannah a piece of her cookies. She wanted to offer her an entire pack, all for herself. Sister Mary Hannah was worth that to her. A whole pack. And I was the one keeping her from giving her that.
How often have I done that? How often have I held back, from pouring out and pouring into those in need, those with less than me, even those who perhaps just want a chance to be seen, heard and cared for by me?
As we celebrate the Easter season, perhaps we take intentional time to look for ways we can give, even if it means sneaking an extra pack of cookies out of the pantry.
Katie Prejean McGrady is an international Catholic speaker and author.
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