One of the on-line communities I belong to is focused on being and bringing light into our often dark and scary world. (You can read more about it here). For the past month, we’ve been looking intentionally at the small ways we bring light into all the places we inhabit in the course of our daily lives.
That discussion made me think of the Postage Stamp quilt in the photo.
It was created by my husband’s great-grandmother Sarah (Herwig) Montgomery, a master craftswoman who quilted well into her nineties. It’s comprised of tiny postage-stamp sized pieces of fabric - nearly 6,000 of them – which, when Grandma Sadie lovingly stitched them together, became one beautiful whole.
The big things in life get a lot of attention. Many we actively plan for and anticipate; others are such life-altering experiences we couldn’t ignore them even if we wanted to.
The little things often go unnoticed. In some places “little” or “small” means “inconsequential”, but they matter just as much. In fact, the big things are made up – like that quilt – of hundreds of small things: one thought, one step, one act; one circumstance, one event that, combined with others, creates the big picture.
As I thought about the small things in my life, I realized I pay more attention to some of them than I used to. Since losing Bill, it’s often been the smallest of things that undo me and leave me in tears.
But it’s also true that noticing and tending those small things – facing each one as honestly as I can, and continuing to put one foot in front of the other – has been one of the things that has helped me find my way back home to myself after my life was shattered.
Like Grandma Sadie collecting and stitching together all those tiny scraps of fabric, navigating the sorrow and loss has been a process of reintegration – of picking up the pieces of my life and putting them back together in new ways.
I discovered something else. Not only is noticing and tending both the big and small things in our lives important, how we do that matters too.
We human creatures have a penchant for isolating and compartmentalizing. We whittle our lives up into separate areas: work life; home life; social life; spiritual life; health and wellness; finances, etc., etc., etc. Organized Me used to think keeping everything in its own small pile in its own little cubbyhole helped me stay focused.
What it really does is distract me. Scatter my attention. Keep me running in umpteen different directions. I lose myself chasing down all those bits and pieces, trying to keep hundreds of plates spinning at once.
In expressing my struggles with this to the wise one shepherding me through my book writing project, she remarked, “I see all these things – the life stuff that feels like it is taking away from the book stuff – as continuing to feed who you are becoming as a person and as a writer. I believe it’s all one.”
She’s right. As Paul put it in his letters to the churches at Rome and Corinth, “many parts, one body.” These aren’t separate, stand-alone things; they are interwoven and interconnected, each part of my whole life, without which I would not be who I am.
Ironically - or not - what this month-long focus on “the small ways” has ultimately done is call me back to the big picture of my whole life.
I invite you to join me, Dear Reader. Notice the small things as you move through your day.
As you do so, spend some time pondering how and where they fit in the big picture of your life, and what that might be saying to you.