A rag-tag group of elementary students sat at a table and hand-crafted Valentine’s cards. The cards would be delivered to shut-ins of the church. In the pile of crayon smears and scratchy writing lay my daughter’s card. She has a flair for the dramatic, so the card pulled out all the stops with oodles of hearts, glitter, lots of words and a generous amount of pink.
The Wednesday night of card making had long since passed when a letter arrived in our mailbox. On the envelope read Ellie’s name. She smiled proudly. You know the look when a little one feels the thrill of receiving something that seems grown-up.
We gathered around her as she opened the envelope to reveal a beautiful pink card complete with hearts and glitter. Her pen pal was the 83 year old shut-in who had received her Valentine. Written on the pink polka dot pattern was a beautiful note in cursive. Jane explained that she had an 88 year old husband. She signed the letter with love ya! A five-dollar bill was taped inside.
Ellie’s eyes grew wide at such a surprising treat. She placed the bill in her piggy bank and displayed the card on her dresser. I have a feeling it will stay there for some time. Later that night she came downstairs with a piece of paper, a letter to her new friend. She asked Jane to call her El, short for Ellie of course and told her six facts about herself. She drew a flower, a cupcake and a cat head. On the backside of the letter she drew a unicorn.
When we give, the gift we receive back is often deeper. (Click to tweet this!) We don’t expect this, but it has a way of happening.
A whisper of thanks so genuine it dusts away our own ingratitude.
A smile that is so moving we remember it for years to come.
The warmth of the assurance that we are capable of offering hope.
The way our vision deepens, expands and we are left with the knowledge that our life is so much more.
You can touch another life, whether you are 8 or 83, hearts, glitter and unicorns span all generations.
Have you ever been touched in a deeper way than expected when you cared for someone else?
Lisa Van Engen is a writer from Holland, Michigan. She loves to offer up encouragement about making a difference at her website About Proximity. Lake Michigan and hiking are two of her family’s favorite things to do.