The Things We Do For Love…

So it seems my Volunteer time has caused me to expand my opportunities for love. It has definitely opened me up to more opportunities for love. The mothers and babies, the expectant moms and the caring Siena House staff; the Sisters with whom I live; the cab drivers; the Viet Nam vet; the Sisters and Associates of Blauvelt, Hope and Sinsinawa; my own family; my Illinois friends; and the countless others who make the Dominican Volunteer program possible, are all with me on my journey of love.
Andrea Pic
I woke this morning, as I typically do, with a song playing in my head. The song, titled above, was released in 1977. And yes I was alive then.
As I hummed the song this morning, I thought about where and who I was back then, who and where I am now, and how I got here. I thought about the people in my life who have and do love me, and those I love. I found via a search, that what I thought was the 2nd commandment “Love your neighbor as yourself”, was not on the original 10, but rather the 2nd of 2 of the most important laws/rules per Jesus in Mark and Matthew.
 
In reflection, I wondered in amazement how having just retired early from my career, I ended up in the Bronx, working in a transitional homeless shelter for moms, babies and moms to be and living with Sisters in a convent. I thought about my grandma, who was my loving pal. Hearing the phrase “unconditional love” throughout my catholic education, I grew to realize that she was my 1st feel of that. I also realized that “unconditional love” was my core, my stronghold, my faith, my relationship with God. In my somewhat early-mid adulthood, my daughter would always say out loud that she loved me. I don’t remember when she started doing that, but I remember one particular time and place and the feeling of probably not deserving her gift of love. It was in a local sandwich shop where she worked in high school. She said “I love you, mom.” as I was leaving the shop after eating my sandwich and proudly watching her work. She said it in front of her teenage co-workers and friends, OUT LOUD! I’ve never forgotten that moment, that moment of “unconditional love”. I’ve never forgotten that warm feeling of a gift I didn’t feel I deserved. It was one of those transfiguration times that just paused me, that nourished me. She and her brother exchange those words with each other and me regularly, and the impact of “I love you” is a source of strength and calm for me.
 
In my now 1 1/2 years as a Dominican Volunteer, I’ve had some wonderful experiences and met some wonderful people. I have experienced a wonderful freeness to love. I’ve discovered in reflecting on my pre-volunteer days, how the love of my family, friends, previous co-workers, members of the various support groups I facilitated throughout my career, my former patients and their families were all connected to me by love. It’s the bottom line. I can’t be a parent, a girlfriend, an aunt, a niece, a cousin, a friend, a housemate, an assistant or a volunteer without love.
 
Over the past few days, amidst all of the “below and above ground” hate that seems to surround our country as we transition to and with our new president, I have had a couple more personal experiences that have filled me with hope, with love. The 1st was on my way to work at Siena House on Friday. The conversation started with the radio news about the insurrection at the Capitol. The man who drove me said he was not born in the US, but was now a proud citizen. He shared with me parts of his faith in God and the importance of “doing good for and with one another”. He talked about how wrong the hate that is everywhere right now is and how it is against God, against who God is. We shared a bit throughout the ride about love and hate and God, and upon our arrival to Siena House, I put my hand against the plastic shield protecting us from Covid. He put his hand against mine with plastic between us, and I thanked him for sharing and I told him I loved him. He repeated my words back to me. It was one of those transfiguration times that just paused me, that nourished me. When I walked into Siena, I was asked how my ride was, to which I replied, “Wonderful! The perfect start to my day!”
 
My 2nd experience occurred on Saturday. I drove up to where “Woodstock” was some 50+ years ago. I was trying to figure out where it actually was and, because of Covid, everything around it was closed. I found a map that directed me to a spot that had a Woodstock placard up, so I parked to get a better look. I didn’t grab my mask because there was no one around, not a car or person in sight. As I started to walk towards the sign, a car suddenly appeared from nowhere with a 70ish man at the wheel. My 1st thought was to get my mask, my 2nd thought was that I hoped I’d be safe. It turned out the guy had done security during Woodstock. The weekend of Woodstock, he was on leave from the Navy to get married. He had just returned from Viet Nam. Because of Woodstock, he got married the following Tuesday because on Saturday he was working at Woodstock. He brought the Woodstock weekend alive to me as I watched the memories come alive in him. I saw his eyes (mask in place) fill with love, laughter, incredulousness and sadness. It was a wonderful hour+ time for me. It was one of those transfiguration times that just paused me, that nourished me. I stopped at a store down the road to get a t-shirt (so I could use the bathroom). I was talking to the guy working there and told him I had been talking to Lanny. He responded with “poor guy has been lost since his wife died 4 1/2 years ago”. It caused me to think that the Lanny I was talking to was transfigured for a bit with his loving past memories of an event that changed the history of our country, our world.
 
So it seems my Volunteer time has caused me to expand my opportunities for love. It has definitely opened me up to more opportunities for love. The mothers and babies, the expectant moms and the caring Siena House staff; the Sisters with whom I live; the cab drivers; the Viet Nam vet; the Sisters and Associates of Blauvelt, Hope and Sinsinawa; my own family; my Illinois friends; and the countless others who make the Dominican Volunteer program possible, are all with me on my journey of love.
 
As the song goes…
“Too many broken hearts have fallen in the river 
Too many lonely souls have drifted out to sea 
You lay your bets and then you pay the price 
The things we do for love, the things we do for love.”