Skip to main content

THE small STUFF

My life is filled with a lot of things that are small. I DO a lot of small stuff like bake muffins, clean the bathroom, iron shirts, put up shelves, take care of banking, read my Bible, pray for people, write emails, make the bed, pet the cats, take pictures, and study French. I AM relatively small. No matter how much protein powder I ingest or how many push-ups I do, I will never be a large person. Most of my clothes have a label that says “S”, I can fit through an 8 inch gap without any trouble, and most 13-year-olds can wrestle me to the ground in short order. I am FASCINATED by small things: an ant, a pebble, a penny, a leaf, a puddle, a word. Sometimes I wish I lived on a grander scale; that I oversaw the design of sunsets, or planned world summits where enemies had to be roommates and make meals together and learn how to get along, or I discovered how to instantly transport matter from one location to another. That would be cool! But let me tell you a small story…

There was a girl who lived on a small farm in a small province in an insignificant country. Every day she got out of her small bed, put on a small dress, and walked to the small one-room school. One day, on her way to school, she saw a flash of fur in the high grass beside the road and turned to see a small cat running past. She crouched down and remained perfectly still, then called softly. The cat stopped its flight and looked at her, eyes wide with wildness. The small girl and the cat stayed motionless for a few minutes, then the cat turned and left.


The next day on the way to school, she saw the cat running by again. She crouched down and held out her hand. The cat stopped and remained in one spot, sniffing the air in front of it, but would not take a step towards her. The next day the girl brought a piece of cheese. When she saw the cat in the distance, she laid the cheese in the grass in front of her, then stepped back, but the cat would not approach with her in sight, so she walked away. For the next few months, the girl stopped at the same spot of grass every day and laid down a morsel of food for the cat. Gradually, the cat came closer and eventually started to eat the cheese right out of the girl’s hand. Over the school year, the cat began to accompany the girl on longer and longer segments of her walk, but remained in the long grass. Then one day, the cat came out of the grass and joined the girl on the path and walked beside her, and several weeks later, let the girl run her fingers through the fur on its back as they walked together.

Nearly a year after the girl first saw the cat, the teacher invited several students to bring something for a special show and tell the next day when an important guest would be present. The little girl volunteered. The next morning, the teacher and the students were all astounded when the little girl walked into the classroom with her arm draped around the neck of a young male lion. But not as astonished as the little girl was when the special guest of honour, the commander of the whole country’s army, pinned a shiny medal on her small dress and told her she was braver and had more authority than most of the people under his command.

Big accomplishments are always made up of small steps. Enjoy the small stuff. Do it well. Be faithful.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

theology from the margins: God of Hagar

Our contexts have major implications for how we live our lives and engage with our world, that much is obvious. However, we sometimes overlook how much they inform our concepts of God. For those of us occupying the central or dominant demographic in society, we often associate God with power and truth. As a result, our theology is characterized by confidence, certainty, and an expectation that others should be accommodating. For those of us living on the margins of society, our sense of belonging stranded in ambiguity, God is seen as an advocate for the powerless. Our theology leans more toward inclusivity, and we talk less about divine holiness and righteousness and more about a God who suffers. On the margins, the priority is merciful and just action, not correct beliefs. 
There are significant theological incongruences between Christians who occupy the mainstream segment of society and those who exist on the margins. The world of theology has been dominated by Western male thought…

the movement of humility

We live in a context of stratification where much of society is ordered into separate layers or castes. We are identified as upper class, middle class, or lower class. Our language reflects this up/down (superior/inferior) paradigm. We want to be at the top of the heap, climb the ladder of success, break through the glass ceiling, be king of the hill. This same kind of thinking seeps into our theology. When we talk about humility, we think mostly think in terms of lowering ourselves, willfully participating in downward mobility. This type of up/down language is certainly present in biblical texts (James 4:10 is one example), but I believe that the kind of humility we see in Jesus requires that we step outside of a strictly up/down paradigm. Instead of viewing humility as getting down low or stepping down a notch on the ladder of society, perhaps it is more helpful to think in terms of proximity and movement.

Jesuit theologian, James Keenan, notes that virtues and vices are not really…