September 3, 2015

The Small Stuff

Summer can give us some time to step back and look at life from different perspectives. Maybe it is being in a new place for a while or a break from work or routine or just time to consider what we want in life or how we are spending our time - what we cherish - the direction we are headed.

In the last couple of weeks I have overheard several times the old adage: "Don't sweat the small stuff", which certainly in many cases is good advice.  But I have also discovered upon reflection, with a little extra time to think, how often the "small stuff" in life can be very meaningful and actually, very important.

Children can be the best teachers of this lesson. They love small stuff. Every tiny play thing: a miniature knight's sword; a doll shoe; puzzle piece or domino; gets utmost attention and enjoyment. (Be sure not to lose one). They love to live in every moment and pay attention to the smallest detail: a bug; a flower petal; a broken shell; other children passing by; a new word they hear you say and want to understand.

When I think of the small stuff, from my normal day's routine, that I should not "sweat"; I realized that it wasn't the "smallness" of it that I should or should not worry about, but whether the event or experience was life affirming or life draining. Did it in whatever small way lift me up, in kindness, beauty, or love; or did it sour me in negativity, anger, or regret?

And I found often without thinking I get it backwards. I "sweat" or remember the relatively unimportant negative things: the guy who cut me off in traffic; a negative verbal slight by a co worker; my own normal human mistakes that I have held on to or given more importance than I should as I continue to ruminate about it. It is really not that we shouldn't sweat the "small" stuff - we shouldn't sweat or hold own to the negative stuff - the stuff that separates us from others, our best selves, God. 

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted", teaches the Aesop tale, The Lion and the Mouse. Remembering to call or send a card to a friend in need; returning a derogatory comment with a kind one; smiling at or being the first to say hello to a stranger; offering to stop during your busy day and lend a hand or say a kind word.......very very small things. They will not get your name in the headlines or win you any awards but they are awfully good things to remember before you go to bed at night.

  "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed" (Matthew 13:1)

 Peace and love, Bob Bell


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