Friday, October 31, 2008

Tiny pieces of a huge mosaic

We are living through days of big issues.
Big problems. Big failures. Big consequences.
Big spending. Big decisions. A big election.

At a time when there are big promises are made and big lies are told,
when big debts are accumulated and big fears are expanded,
I need to be reminded that it is in the small things,
the small acts of kindness from strangers,
the flowers and butterflies at the Botanical Garden,
the revelations of God's creativity and love,
the quiet walks with the children,
the cups of tea sipped and the chunks of birthday cake eaten the day after the great celebration,
the quiet and tearful prayers we say for our Nicaraguan friends who are suffering through the worst rain storms in years,
the hugs and snuggles as we read together,
the cards we make and give to Regina, the woman at my mother-in-law's assisted living facility, for the scarves and afghans she made for us,
the laughter we share over the crazy words Daniel puts on the Scrabble board every day...

these are the tiny pieces of joy that make up the mosaic of our lives.
And we give thanks to God daily for those tiny signs of love.

At a time in the world, when the stories we hear are so big and internationally important, we aren't hearing much about the little things.
The ways in which the sacred shows up in the tiny moments of life.
The meals given to the hungry and desperate.
The hot coffee served on cold mornings to the homeless.
The clothing drives for those whose needs are great.
Toy collections for Samaritan's Purse boxes.
Visiting the sick and house-bound.
Praying with the fearful and lonely.
Emails, phone calls, and snail mail cards to friends.
Lighting a candle and saying a prayer for a distant loved one.
The men and women who walked miles and miles in the memory of cancer victims, in honor of cancer survivors, and for a cure to cancer this past weekend.
Smiling at a woman sitting across the coffee shop;
sometimes it is so good to be alone.
These are the little things that matter.
The little things that make life matter.
In some cases, these tiny acts determine whether one hungry, scared, sick, lonely person lives or dies.

In his book, Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli wrote:
"Spiritual people are about tiny things, which is the fruit of their spirituality. The spiritual life is not a life of success; it is a life of faithfulness, and it's not easy. God does "big" things once in a while, but there is no question that the primary work of God in the world is salt-and-light tiny. God knew we would naturally be dazzled by big; that's why Jesus told the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son, the mustard seed. Jesus was trying to tell us something: the spiritual life is a tiny life, filled with little decisions, tiny steps toward God, tiny glimpses of his presence, little changes and small movings, tiny successes and imperceptible stirrings...Every tiny contribution we make to His kingdom is noticed and remembered, and one day we will understand just how beautiful our thin sacrifices are.

"Our tiny choices and tiny moves toward God may not seem like much. But someday you and I will stand together in the great cathedral of heaven, and up front, by Jesus, will hang the most magnificent mosaic we could ever imagine, made up of thousands and thousands of our tiny responses to God's love in our lives."

A long time ago, Jesus told a crowd of people a story about how our lives will be reviewed and judged once all the big and little stories of our lives come to an end. He said that some people will hear this response: 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.'"

For the least of these.
For the tiniest pieces of the human mosaic.

I'm off to do something tiny for somebody small.
What about you? What small thing have you done lately?
Has anyone done something small for you?
All the photos in this post were taken today at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. A glorious day to capture images of the glory of creation.
Breathtaking beauty at every turn.
Yes, that was a living butterfly aflutter in the orchid house.

PS. Thanks, Laura, Andrew, and Caroline, for inspiring us to take this trip.


Jen Ballantyne said...

Just such an amazingly beautiful post Gail, I absolutely loved reading this and the photos are stunning, what a gorgeous day. You have reminded me, among other things, to take a trip to our Botanical Gardens with Jack. So beautifully written, take care dear Gail and thank you for your continued support over at my blog, I appreciate it so very much, love and hugs to you, Jen B xx

Andrew said...

Nice! Looks like you went on a much warmer day too.

When we got there, the woman at the counter said "That will be 10 dollars for each adult."

Then she took our money.

Then she said:

"Oh, it's cold so the butterflies will be hiding."


Lisa said...

My adorable husband surprised me on Saturday with a card commemoratin the 18th anniversary of our first date! Inside the card was a check to me from him which read "Charlotte Flash Money" :-)

Something small, but it warmed my heart in a big, big way.

Thank you for this truthful reminder and the awesome photos.