In a world where growth is measured by size and expansion, it is hard to make sense of the purpose of little things. Why set aside the time to prepare a meal from scratch, make bread, plant seeds, or visit a neighbor? Why give to one person when there are twenty, no fifty, more who need the very same thing? Our small actions can seem to make no dent in the world where needs seem to grow exponentially. We quickly dismiss the small things in favor of supporting programs and developing infrastructures that will catch more people, meet more needs, and make more difference.
There is certainly a place for programs and systemic change. Sometimes our efforts can be best placed by supporting these sorts of changes. We need to work toward a world where all of the people of God share justice and equity. But this is a different project than the attention to the small things. The attention to the small things - it is a way of being that gives priority to the spirit. In our desire to see the world change, we must not forget that we too have the opportunity to see God. And often, this happens in the small things.
Every year my daughter and I have planted sunflowers. The repetition of the small seeds placed into the ground returning to the air with huge stalks and heaving heads full of seed is a lesson to both of us every year. Small things must not be ignored. If we don't plant the seeds, we won't see the stalks. If we ignore the small things, we will lose the joy of the daily signs of growth and life. The small things, they make our lives what they are.
Gone are the days when neighbors will ask for a home cooked dinner when a child is sick. Gone are the days when soup made from scratch was put into a jar for the widow next door, when the children learned about neighborhood by bringing food over by hand. Or are they? Why not choose the small things all over again? Not for them. For you.
The world can go so fast, grow so large, that is passes all of us by. But let us remember that there is always room for the small. Corporations and institutions cannot weed out kindness or compassion. These are fruits that grow on different soil. The dirt that rolls out warmth and kindness is rich in the smallest of things. There is always room for something small.