"The words of Jesus, “Love one another as I have loved you,” must be not only a light for us but a flame that consumes the self in us. Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self. Love, to be real, must cost—it must hurt—it must empty us of self."
“I love you, mother,” said little John;
Then, forgetting his work, his cap went on,
And he was off to the garden swing,
Leaving his mother the wood to bring.
“I love you, mother,” said rosy Nell;
“I love you better than tongue can tell;”
Then she teased and pouted full half the day,
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.
“I love you, mother,” said little Fan;
“To-day I’ll help you all I can;
How glad I am that school doesn’t keep!”
So she rocked the babe till it fell asleep.
Then, stepping softly, she fetched the broom,
And swept the floor, and dusted the room;
Busy and happy all day was she,
Helpful and happy as a child could be.
“I love you, mother,” again they said—
Three little children going to bed;
How do you think that mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?
--Joy Allison, “Which Loved Best?”
(McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader, 1879, 146–47)