Editor’s Note: In the third installment of her four part series, missioner Amanda Ceraldi shares how bearing the beams of love for one person often extends beyond the bounds of what we think is possible and affects countless others in unforeseen ways.

“We are put on earth for a little space that we might learn to bear the beams of love.” -William Blake

At the hospital, it didn’t take me long to realize that my time there wasn’t about me, but I also quickly learned that I wasn’t only there for Maria. I could have never imagined that my ability to “bear the beams of love” for one little girl would allow me to bear the beams of love for many. My shifts at the hospital were focused on Maria, but how could I only be there for Maria when there were other kids there too?

When I first arrived at the hospital I met Grace, the little girl in the bed next to Maria. Grace was intrigued by all of the games and coloring books I brought for Maria. So I invited her to sit and color with us. We spent the next few hours playing games and coloring.

In those few hours I began to get to know Grace – her age, her favorite color, and a part of her story. After asking why Maria was in the hospital, Grace was forthcoming about why she was there.

Grace began to take off her hospital robes, revealing the large bruises that covered her body. Grace explained to me that she was in the hospital because her mom beat her with a belt, which left her with these black and blue marks, not for the first time.

Grace went on to explain that her mother was under investigation by the police for beating her children. While Grace wasn’t physically hurt beyond her bruises, she was facing serious emotional pain.

I don’t know what happened to Grace after she left the hospital, but it was through her story and the stories of the other sick and abused kids I met that I realized that when we decide to bear the beams of love for others, the love we give is not finite.

The beams shine farther than we could ever know or see. So, in bearing the beams of love for Maria and playing and coloring with Grace, and Antonio, and Ryan, and the countless other kids and their parents that I encountered at the hospital, I was unconsciously bearing the beams of love for all of them as well.

During my time at the hospital I learned some invaluable lessons. I learned that the love we have to give is infinite and that we have enough love to share with many. There is no limit to our ability to love, it doesn’t end—we are capable of willingly giving infinite love, even if it doesn’t seem possible. To bear the beams of love is to love infinitely and to love in unexpected ways.

Amanda with some of her students

Amanda with some of her students

Reflection Question: In those times when you feel like you don’t have anything to offer, remember that you are always capable of love and often, that is the most important thing you can offer. In what ways are you being called to love more?

Featured image: adaptation of “Beams of Love” prayer card by artist Mary Southard, CSJ.