Before he returned to the Institute today, just after Katie and Brendan left, son Tom suggested I listen to this poem by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. It probably had exactly the effect he anticipated---it made me laugh and brought a few tears to my eyes
I recalled all of the little things that children do and make for their parents, especially moms---sometimes they craft them out of their own imaginations and hearts, but, more often, they are probably forced to make them during camps or classes, and then they give their gift lovingly to the one who does so much for them. It's a little thing, probably not worth much on its own, but given with the love of a child it is imbued with greater meaning and worth.THE LANYARDThe other day as I was ricocheting slowlyoff the blue walls of this roombouncing from typewriter to pianofrom bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionarywhere my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard.No cookie nibbled by a French novelistcould send one more suddenly into the past.A past where I sat at a workbenchat a camp by a deep Adirondack lakelearning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard.A gift for my mother.I had never seen anyone use a lanyard.Or wear one, if that’s what you did with them.But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strandagain and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother.She gave me life and milk from her breasts,and I gave her a lanyardShe nursed me in many a sick room,lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,set cold facecloths on my foreheadthen led me out into the airy lightand taught me to walk and swim and I in turn presented her with a lanyard."Here are thousands of meals" she said,"and here is clothing and a good education.""And here is your lanyard," I replied,"which I made with a little help from a counselor.""Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world." she whispered."And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp.""And here," I wish to say to her now,"is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth,that you can never repay your mother,but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands,I was as sure as a boy could bethat this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredomwould be enough to make us even."
-- Billy Collins
So it is with the insignificant gifts we give to the One who does so much for us. Our little sacrifices that we make as we follow St. Thérèse's Little Way, are received by by Our Lord with an even greater love than our mothers could give. According to another Teresa, St. Teresa of Avila, "It is Love alone which gives worth to all things."
The size of the gift doesn't matter, only the love with which it is given. Today, and the next 50 days, we celebrate the greatest gift ever given. Have you made a lanyard with which to repay it?