photo by Charles Edward Case

Last week, a pile of small, thin, blue strips of paper arrived at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. On one side was typed the name of our organization, address, a brief summary of our programs, and hours of operation filled in with a child’s handwriting. Attached to each slip of paper was a hand-made pipe cleaner flower. These small gifts came from a program called “Service in Schools,” which seeks to pair New York City public schools with volunteer opportunities.

The papers were meant to be distributed to guests. And the best part of these offerings was the other side: on every small sheet, a child had written words of encouragement to the recipient. Some examples are included in the photo above. They ranged from recommendations for physical self-care (“Stay fit!” “Don’t smoke or do drugs!” “Eat lots of vegetables!”) to motivational statements (“Think good thoughts!” “Never give up” “Do your best”) to general affirmations (“You are a good person” “the world is happy because you are here”). One paper was covered with hearts. Another included a short list of reasons to be thankful.

These tiny bits of positive energy landed at the Soup Kitchen unexpectedly. We didn’t request them, they just showed up. And they were meant to be distributed liberally; given anonymously and universally. Which we did. I can only assume they were gratefully received, but we did not follow up. We just passed on what had been given freely to us, rejoicing in the opportunity to do so.

In two days we will celebrate Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit arrived to compel Jesus’ followers into the next stage of their discipleship. As we remember their empowerment to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and the universal way in which they communicated it, may we also remember that we too are equipped to live that same Good News and share it generously. We never know how God will use our responses to the Spirit’s activity in our lives. Opportunities are everywhere, and no gesture is too small.