In her many years of working with the poorest of the poor, Mother Teresa was often asked about how she felt about governmental efforts to help the poor. She always replied that she was completely in favor of all efforts to help alleviate poverty, but that her organization provided something that governmental efforts find it hard to give – love.
The Meals on Wheels program shows the wisdom of Mother Teresa's insight. This program is much beloved because it not only delivers nourishing meals to the elderly and to shut-ins, but also gives such individuals human companionship.
Mother Teresa used to say that the greatest poverty is being lonely, of having the feeling that no one loves you. This is a sentiment that is worth remembering while celebrating Valentine’s Day. For many, this is a happy time of year in which they receive cards, flowers and candy from their significant others.
But for many people, this is a painful time of the year. Partly this is simply due to the season. Mental health experts have long recognized what is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, a feeling of depression that many people have during the winter season because of the cold weather and the long, dark nights.
But for many people, Valentine’s Day is painful because of loneliness. They may have had a spouse die or may have gone through a divorce. It broke my heart a while back when a counselor told me that she knows of a number of cases where people feel so lonely on Valentine's Day that they mail cards to themselves just so they will have a Valentine’s Day gift.
So on this Valentine’s Day, I would respectfully urge my faithful readers to think about people in their lives who are lonely and who might appreciate a Valentine’s Day card. Sending a Valentine’s Day card to a lonely person might seem like a small act, but to quote Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love.”
Ernest Evans is a Leavenworth Times columnist.