The Small


Despite our determination to teach Gwyn to pick up her toys, our house is littered with things:  paperclips moved from the office to her toy kitchen, a nickel on the back of the toilet, Mardi Gras beads in the mixing bowl—you get the picture.  I spend a ridiculous amount of time putting things away.  At times I get fed up and decide to purge; if we didn’t have so much stuff, Gwyn couldn’t move it.  Clutter irritates me; as I pick up, I must work hard not to get annoyed.  I hope all the bending over at least counts as exercise.

A year ago I began to make peace with the mundane nature of my spiritual path. Others are called to service or silence or ecstasy; my fate is to find God in the details.  The doll clothes I discover at the bottom of the laundry chute and must carry back upstairs are a hassle, yes, but they’re also an opportunity to open my heart.  Gwyn’s two; she’s learning by doing, experimenting with doors and containers and gravity, and my small task of straightening supports her important work.  The God of Gwyn’s mess asks of me generosity, patience, perseverance, order, and a capacity to recognize where good is emerging.  At times straightening serves this good, and at other times I must hold Gwyn accountable.  I’m not her maid.  When she’s able to be responsible for cleaning, she should.  Good boundaries and high expectations help bring out the greatest good.

In the meantime I fish the playing cards out from behind sofa cushions and pick up dozens of rubber bands and resort the silverware as a form of prayer.  Thank you for this abundance.  Thank you for an inquisitive child.  Make my heart still.  May my every action be loving.  I’d prefer other spiritual practices given a choice, but this is what’s before me now.  Any small moment can blossom into communion if I’m open.  So I practice opening.
–Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew

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