The Greatest of These is Love
My day began on a decidedly sour note when I saw my six- year-old wrestling
with a limb of my azalea bush. By the time I got outside, he'd broken it. "Can
I take this to school today?" he asked.
With a wave of my hand, I sent him off. I turned my back so he wouldn't see
the tears gathering in my eyes. I loved that azalea bush. I touched the broken
limb as if to say silently, "I'm sorry."
I wished I could have said that to my husband earlier, but I'd been angry. The
washing machine had leaked on my brand-new linoleum. If he'd just taken the
time to fix it the night before when I asked him instead of playing checkers
with Jonathan. 'What are his priorities anyway?' I wondered. I was still
mopping up the mess when Jonathan walked into the kitchen.
"What's for breakfast, Mom?"
I opened the empty refrigerator. "Not cereal," I said, watching the sides of
his mouth drop. "How about toast and jelly?" I smeared the toast with jelly
and set it in front of him. 'Why was I so angry?' I tossed my husband's dishes
into the sudsy water.
It was days like this that made me want to quit. I just wanted to drive up to
the mountains, hide in a cave, and never come out.
Somehow I managed to lug the wet clothes to the Laundromat. I spent most of
the day washing and drying clothes and thinking how love had disappeared from
my life. Staring at the graffiti on the walls, I felt as wrung-out as the
clothes left in the washers.
As I finished hanging up the last of my husband's shirts, I looked at the
clock ... 2:30. I was late. Jonathan's class let out at 2:15. I dumped the
clothes in the back seat and hurriedly drove to the school.
I was out of breath by the time I knocked on the teacher's door and peered
through the glass. With one finger, she motioned for me to wait. She said
something to Jonathan and handed him and two other children crayons and a
sheet of paper.
"What now?" I thought, as she rustled through the door and took me aside. "I
want to talk to you about Jonathan," she said.
I prepared myself for the worst. Nothing would have surprised me.
"Did you know Jonathan brought flowers to school today?" she asked.
I nodded, thinking about my favorite bush and trying to hide the hurt in my
eyes. I glanced at my son busily coloring a picture. His wavy hair was too
long and flopped just beneath his brow. He brushed it away with the back of
his hand. His eyes burst with blue as he admired his handiwork.
"Let me tell you about yesterday," the teacher insisted. "See that little
I watched the bright-eyed child laugh and point to a colorful picture taped to
the wall. I nodded.
"Well, yesterday she was almost hysterical. Her mother and father are going
through a nasty divorce. She told me she didn't want to live, she wished she
could die. I watched that little girl bury her face in her hands and say loud
enough for the class to hear, 'Nobody loves me.' I did all I could to console
her, but it only seemed to make matters worse."
"I thought you wanted to talk to me about Jonathan," I said.
"I do," she said, touching the sleeve of my blouse."Today your son walked
straight over to that child. I watched him hand her some pretty pink flowers
and whisper, 'I love you.'"
I felt my heart swell with pride for what my son had done.
I smiled at the teacher. "Thank you," I said, reaching for Jonathan's hand,
"you've made my day."
Later that evening, I began pulling weeds from around my lopsided azalea bush.
As my mind wandered back to the love Jonathan showed the little girl, a
biblical verse came to me: "Now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But
the greatest of these is love."
While my son had put love into practice, I had only felt anger.
I heard the familiar squeak of my husband's brakes as he pulled into the
drive. I snapped a small limb bristling with hot pink azaleas off the bush. I
felt the seed of love that God planted in my family beginning to bloom once
again in me. My husband's eyes widened in surprise as I handed him the
"I love you," I said.
- Nanette Thorsen-Snipes