Thursday, August 23, 2012

Little things…

I’m writing this Monday morning, sun shining, temperature mild. What a perfect day for a nice run with Fawkes the Dog! Alas, that won’t be happening, since I sit here typing with my foot elevated. For yesterday afternoon, walking through the kitchen while checking my smart phone, I failed to notice the door frame in my path, and kicked it mightily with my left foot. Now both the pinky and fourth toes on said foot bear several colorful bruises. My mobility’s severally limited. I’m contemplating a doctor visit. People tell me there’s often very little to be done about broken toes, outside of regular icing, foot elevating and avoiding long runs! Still, it’s frustrating to know I’ll be out of regular commission for some time. And to think, it’s all the fault of (my not paying attention to where I walked) two tiny, seemingly insignificant digits on my non-dominant foot.

Usually, when you or I or most people take to worrying about the future, it’s the big stuff, the massive upheavals that generate most emotion. Our nation spends considerably more attention and money each year on preparing for or working against terrorist attacks, than, say, combating childhood obesity or reducing preventable diseases caused by commonly encountered insects. Statistically, the latter are much more likely problems than the former, it’s been argued. Nevertheless, we worry more about another 9/11, for better or worse, you decide.

Indeed, as I’ve planned for navigating the possible dangers of being a homeowner, I’ve focused on the big stuff too. Fire Insurance? Check. Burglary Prevention? We’ve got a plan. But did I pad the kitchen doorway, knowing it’s more likely I’d one day run into it while distracted with updating my Twitter feed? Of course not! And now I’ve got the bruises to prove it…

All of which isn’t to say that you or I should spend more time worrying about more stuff. Indeed, I firmly believe we’d all be better off if we chose to be less fearful. Rather, I’m struck this morning by the significance of seemingly insignificant things, how a simple change to a small detail can make a big difference.

On the negative side of that equation, of course, are my battered toes, exhibit A. They barely impact my body’s balancing, yet I’m having trouble walking up the stairs. But if you think on the positive side (didn’t I preach about Living Gladly yesterday?!), I suspect that there too little things can matter.

Let’s start with the well-documented and obvious: Daily, personal prayer. Do you take brief moments each day to say, “This is the day you’ve made, Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in it!”? I hope so, but if not, let me share personal experience. When daily gratitude is part of my routine, life is simply better. I’m more patient, more compassionate, more the kind of guy I want to be. When it’s been days or weeks or more, however, I notice a diminishment. I’m quicker to blame, to complain, to give into fear or deny hope. Little things like “Thank you God!” are bigger than we imagine.

Or how about this? I knew a guy who carried a small, beat-up photograph in his wallet. It showed the aftermath of a particularly brutal massacre during the Rwandan genocide, a place he’d visited. Sounds terrible, right? Why keep that around?! Well, he said, it’s a reminder of the still urgent need to work for the Kingdom of God, the reality that it’s not yet at hand and that Christians committed to justice and love remain desperately relevant. Sounds like a little thing, but the photo held big significance to him, a constant connection to what he claimed was the deep core of his Christian faith.

I wonder, then, what the little things are for us that make a difference. And I mean in the positive sense, not simply my now-annoyingly sensitive left foot. How do the details of your life keep you shining God’s light of love more and more brightly? How might a little change make for you, and others, a world full of difference?

Grace and Peace,

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