Mark 12:30-31 (NIV) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend a week serving as Counselor at a Christian camp, and I was given a Junior Counselor named Sylvia to assist me. She was a beautiful young woman – one of the most humble people I have ever met. I first saw her as I stepped off the bus. She stood a short distance away with her arms around the shoulders of two young boys, her body language making the statement, "I will protect them." I later learned they were her cousins, John and Joe, who had traveled alone from Seoul, South Korea for a visit with Sylvia and her family.
Sylvia and I bonded almost immediately, and at some point during the week, she proclaimed that I was her American mom, and I replied, “Then you are my Korean daughter."
The first night at camp became quite chilly, even in our A-frame cabin. Sometime after we and our young campers had settled in for the evening, Sylvia came to me and said, “I want to go see my cousins.”
“Is anything wrong?” I asked.
“No nothing, really. I just want to bring them my blanket.”
I knew without further conversation that it would be futile to try and dissuade her from this loving and sacrificial act, so I told her to take one of the girls along. While she was gone I was able to secure another blanket for her.
At times when all the campers were together we had opportunities to be with her cousins. They spoke very little English, but with Sylvia acting as translator, we came to know each other a little better. One such time was when we were around an evening campfire. The camp Pastor instructed us to lie on our backs and look at the stars while holding hands with the person next to us. Sylvia placed herself between me and her cousins so that we could “talk.”
A few moments into the conversation she said quietly, “John wants to know what you think love is.”
I thought for a few moments and remembering Sylvia and her blanket, I said, “I think love is when you’re willing to hurt for someone.” Sylvia translated, and no one spoke for a while.
That night as I lay in bed, I coined a phrase. “My sole purpose is my soul purpose is my Seoul purpose.” That phrase has stayed with me over the years, becoming simply, “My sole purpose is my soul purpose, or said backward, “My soul purpose is my sole purpose.” It’s become sort of a mantra for me.
So I carry these words with me into my Lenten journey. For hungry children, I am willing to “hurt” a little. To God be the glory.