Summer of Love
Anne Huntington | Tuesday, August 31, 2010
My Notre Dame family,
I am writing to you about a little adventure I like to call the Summer of Love.
Last fall I applied for, and somehow got, a placement for the Center for Social Concerns International Summer Service Project in Kolkata, India. The site places two Notre Dame students in Kolkata to work with the Missionaries of Charity, the order of nuns Mother Teresa founded. I went off thinking I would discover a little more about love: how to give and to receive it. It ended up being a complete understatement.
Arriving in Kolkata, I was sure I would end up volunteering at an orphanage, although I promised myself I would start with working at Nrimal Hriday, better known as Kalighat, a home for the destitute and dying of Kolkata. Mother Teresa founded the home to care for people in their last hours, to give them dignity and love; to make them feel like humans before they died. I was scared beyond belief to work there. How could I, a lowly student, do anything for these people who had suffered so much?
No surprise: I was incredibly wrong. I found I loved Kalighat. As I gave the patients medicine, fed, clothed, and washed them, they gave me boundless amounts of love. They held my hand, just as much as I held theirs. They massaged my back when I looked stressed. Then fanned me when I was drenched in sweat. They offered me their stories, their smiles, their hugs. I undeniably received invaluable lessons: I learned how to love.
Mother Teresa once said, “We have been created for greater things: to love and to be loved.” Her simple words present a challenge and a blessing: to truly live our humanity to the fullest we have to love, but we also receive it. So this Fall of Love I challenge you all to love each other. Hold open the door for someone else. Smile at that person you barely know but pass all the time. As I found this summer, sometimes it is the smallest actions that can offer the most love. Go out into the community. Do a week-long service project over fall break. Apply for an ISSLP. Spread the love.
Enjoy the Fall of Love! I can’t wait to see how love has transformed campus next spring!
Love until it hurts,