Monday, November 12, 2012

The Day of Small Things

A recent rainy walk in my neighborhood.
The leaves are starting to really drop now.

I was just looking through my Word files for something that might help me with a paper I have to write, and I stumbled across this little piece of writing. It's a rough draft for something that I ended up not using. Reading this, I was struck by how really foundational and sweet this very situation was in my life in those early years with children and how fundamental it remains even now. It was, and is, the way I aim to live my days and my life.


“Who despises the day of small things?”
Zechariah 4: 10

My eyes were heavy, and I would have loved more sleep, but I couldn’t help but smile when I awoke to Michelle’s usual happy chatter.  She beamed at me as I lifted her from her crib, and I beamed back, kissing her cheek. But I carried her downstairs half-distracted, my heart stirring over middle of the night thoughts that had kept me awake.

A growing awareness of the blessings and profound responsibilities of motherhood had me praying fervently for my girls, and I asked God to give me clear mothering vision. As I prayed that night, my thoughts returned again and again to the importance of small daily acts—those little things that sometimes seem insignificant but eventually make up a life.

I strapped Michelle into her high chair that autumn morning in our English kitchen, and she chatted at me amiably. I returned her chatter while continuing to think and pray. Did my intense middle-of-the-night thoughts really reflect God’s mind for me as a mother? Was it true that the ordinary things I did every day—diaper changing, housekeeping, story-reading—were charged with unrealized meaning and power when they were done with love? Would God really transform my meager efforts into something beautiful in the hearts of my children? Could He use my imperfect offerings of love to reveal His perfect love to my girls? Could the ordinary, mundane work of motherhood really be this eternally profound?

Sunlight streamed through the kitchen window and spilled across the stove. I stirred our breakfast porridge and remembered 16th century monk, Brother Lawrence. His daily work was kitchen work, but he considered it his spiritual work. He said he didn't need big things to do—he turned his little omelet in the pan for the love of God. It was an act of worship.

My own quotidian routines could be worship, too. So, that morning, I cooked porridge for the love of Michelle and for the love of the Lord. I believed that He really would make even this fleeting earthly act something that mattered for eternity in my child’s heart. And also in mine.

10 comments:

  1. Susan,

    This was so beautiful and such an encouragement to me!

    I was so delighted to see you back writing. I would check in every now and then.(And now often;-) I don't read many blogs, but yours has always encouraged me. I also really appreciated the post a little while ago about living the way you were made to, not feeling the pressure from others to conform. I feel this so much! So many of my friends live such busy lives, and I admire all they accomplish. It's so hard not to get caught up in busyness, and it takes so much effort to say, "no." But, I find that because I haven't said no, our life is not accomplishing the things that we say we value most. So, recently we have said no to more outside commitments, and yes to more time at home as a family. One of the things I see in your pictures is that wherever you live, there is beauty and peace. That is one of the things I've always admired about my mom, too. Wherever she and my dad have lived, their home always feels like home!

    My sisters and I spent a day together in Eugene recently. We had breakfast at Morning Glory Cafe and then did a Trader Joe run. :-) If we ever see you, beware, we just might all come up and give you a big hug!;-)

    I hope you have beautiful week!
    Lisa (greensgirl)

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    1. Hey, Lisa! Maybe we'll cross paths in TJ's sometime! :-) I've never eaten at Morning Glory, but I know people who like it. What do you think? You, know I'm just *really* glad you're still around, visiting me at my blogs after all of the stopping and starting I've done. Thanks for your comment and sweet words. (Your mom sounds awesome, by the way. And your sisters, too!)

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    2. I'm glad you are back writing! I really enjoy your writing and it's fun living in this area, knowing the same places:-)We live in Canby.
      I really like Morning Glory. I get the same dish every time I go there. They make their recipes available if you want them. I took home the recipe for their morning glory spice mix and homemade ketchup. I love it for their breakfast fare. Oh, and they have good mochas:-)
      I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!


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  2. Seriously beautiful. And just what I needed to read. The perfect reminder for me in these overwhelming littles days. You are such an encourager Susan, thank you.

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    1. Oh, Amy, thanks. And you are an encouragement to me, both here and at your blog. I appreciate you.

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  3. Hi Susan, This is quite beautiful. I love how intentional you seem to have been. I am curious, if you don't mind, to know if this is representative of your journaling, or if the piece was written for a blog post after the fact. I guess, I'm wondering if you are looking back at this incident and your feelings towards it, or if this is an immediate (same day, that evening) response in writing.
    I can understand looking back and pondering over the day, but I would like to cultivate less of a reaction to life, and more of a response based on careful observation. Perhaps this is making no sense, sorry.
    Sandra

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    1. Dear Sandra, I think you make total sense! I actually wrote this a couple of years ago for a project someone was doing, but then I didn't use it (and never finished it). This was my actual process, though, when Michelle was tiny. I remember this scene with clarity because the night and day I wrote about in the post altered my life and vision. It is fundamental to the way I live my days even now. My journaling, which I am not doing now (on purpose) is very different. It's more stream of consciousness, and back in the days when this happened, I don't think I could have written it exactly like it is here. It's not that I've added anything to the vision or even fleshed it out more. What I wrote was exactly how I was looking at it back then. But I don't know if I could have communicated it in such a straightfoward manner. You know what I mean?

      Anyway, I appreciate your kindness, Sandra. And I do know what you mean about being more "intentional" and less response-oriented. That's what vision does for us, doesn't it? And I'm quite sure that you've got that! It seems very apparent even in this post that you *are* deliberate and thoughtful, but I do know what you mean.

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    2. Susan, Thank you so much for your patient response, and for helping me think about this.
      So, are you saying that it's not JUST about trying harder to do what is right, but it's more that - when I can see clearly what I'm really working towards - the vision that is, then that's the fuel? Something bigger than just being more patient with my child? Please correct me if I'm off track - I would value it greatly. This is something that I've really struggled to fully 'get'.
      Sandra

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  4. Aww, Susan, I'm so glad to know you!
    Jodi

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    1. Jodi. I am truly glad to know you, too. I love seeing you here!

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