To start us off this week, I thought I would open with a fun construction joke to level out the playing field. But, a volunteer told me I was nuts because they didn’t like the impact my tools puns have.   

I beg to differ, I think that awl of my jokes are funny, but now I have to solder the burden of figuring out how to open my blog this week. 

And you know that? I think I nailed it. Ba-dum tsssss. 

Okay, now that I’ve lost about half of my audience, happy last week of June kiddos! I can’t believe that we’re almost halfway through the summer. While it’s no secret that the days at ASP can be long, I didn’t expect the first month to fly by as fast as it has. As I look back at my first five weeks with ASP, I am struck with gratitude for the love I have experienced during my time on staff (smooth transition).

Full transparency, I don’t always feel the love that surrounds me. I think I speak for most human beings when I say that it can be easy to overlook the small acts of love we experience each day. We get busy, we take things for granted, we get caught up in our own stuff, and forget that there’s a whole world outside of our heads. 

I will admit that I was deeply stuck in this rut at the start of this week, in Floyd County. I was beginning to feel the schedule of the Summer catch up to me and found myself becoming so focused on what was going on inside my mind that I forgot to engage with what was happening right in front of me. 

On Tuesday, I visited a site that was working on a deck and ramp project. The homeowner’s grandson, who was about the height of my knee the old-timers would say, ran around the yard helping the volunteers. Using a toy pick-up truck, he helped dump waste and as the volunteers dug the holes for the porch, he collected the worms they brought to the surface. 

As he collected the worms, he washed them and gave them new soil to squirm in. He petted them, gave them names, and sat perched on the picnic table, watching his new friends. 

Did he accidentally kill a few worms? Very likely. However, I feel certain that I have never seen a purer form of love than the love this small boy gave his new pet worms. As I talked with him and watched, I realized that his love was simple. It was pure and it was raw. Even though this little boy had nothing to give these worms, he cared for them anyway. 

There is a Bible verse that I am sure you have heard of, even if you don’t frequent its pages. From 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This verse is often read at weddings and funerals, but I implore you to look at it through the lens of the mundane. 

Yes, love can be sweet. It can radiate out of you, give you a soft place to land, and hold your hand while you walk over rocky paths. Love can also be hard. We get let down, we let others down, and worst of all we let ourselves down. We slam doors and we let ugly things unfurl from our mouths.

We imagine big dramatic acts when we think of love, but mostly, I have noticed that love can be quite subtle when you boil it down. A warm smile, a few words of encouragement, the willingness to sit in silence after a long day. 

Our theme this Summer is “Love Strong,” pointing directly toward the strength that love can have. I think that part of its strength is in the fact that it doesn’t have to be big to be impactful.

For the rest of the week, I made it a point to watch for simple acts of love like the one the boy had shown the worms. I found it in places that I never would have even thought to look for: the trading homemade jam recipes with a homeowner in Floyd, a surprise “Tex Message” from volunteers in Knott Lotts Creek, stopping for dinner with my brother in Magoffin. 

Patience, kindness, trust, and perseverance. Love can be simple and that’s what makes it strong. 

My takeaway this week is less of a lesson and more of a hope. This week, I hope that you are patient, I hope that you are kind. I pray that you find yourself to be centered in patience, quick to let go of what frustrates you and slow to lose trust in those around you. I hope you will look for the simple acts of love in your life, and hold on tight. 

Rest in love, and let it envelop you. Love deeply and love often. You know the drill.

Until next week, love ya!

Lauren Rhodes

Story Gathering Intern