Little Things –
They’re everywhere! Well, maybe not everywhere, but we certainly have quite a few of them in and around the house. We’ve found them in the shower, the bedroom, the bed, the ceiling, on hair brushes and numerous other places. Ladybugs! As the weather turns cooler, they’re turning into a real nuisance. Our first instinct is to swat them but they make quite the mess so instead, we will gently gather them up and show them to the door.
Ladybugs are such tiny things that could pose a big problem. In the same way, our lives can be filled with irritations that pose large challenges. A miscalculated statement to a coworker can become a problematic working relationship. A small lapse in attention while driving causes a large accident or at least scares and angers other drivers. A seemingly insignificant gesture can cause a heated exchange and escalate into a fight. What has the appearance of a minor choice can have enormous consequences.
Too often we think it’s the big things which make or break our lives. Truthfully, more than likely it’s the little things that decide who and what we are, will become and decide our destiny.
I heard someone talking today about a giant animated spider a neighbor has in their front yard along with several other Halloween decorations. The problem isn’t the decor but the animated spider scares the man and his dog each time they walk near the house The spider is motion activated so there’s never a moment when the spider won’t “react” when he and the pooch are near the house. He’s resigned to walk a different way and in a different direction until his neighbor puts away the spider. He’s hoping the Christmas decorations will be less traumatic for him and his dog.
As I listened to his story I thought about fear; our reaction to it and it’s reaction to us. There are different things we are each afraid of. What scares one might not bother the other and the stuff of nightmares to one is shrugged off by another.
The man would be silly to try to tell his dog; “It’s not real. It’s fake. Stop being fearful!” Two things keep the dog from understanding. One, the dog doesn’t speak or comprehend language. Two, fear doesn’t work that way. How the man handled it is spot on. He walked a different way so he and his dog would be able to walk in peace.
Too often we try to convince people not to be scared of things. Sometimes this works but most of the time we and the person we are trying to convince not to be fearful end up frustrated and eventually separated. Facing our fears is fine in certain cases but in others walking with another a different way shows love, empathy, and acceptance.
On my way home from Nashville, Tennessee, earlier this week the road I was traveling had a construction zone. I maneuvered into the proper lane and most other vehicles did the same. However, there was a woman in a silver Mercedes who misjudged when she needed to get over. I noticed just in time as she attempted to pull into the same space occupied by my truck. When I recognized that she didn’t see me I honked the horn but this didn’t stop her and I slammed on the brakes to avoid getting into a collision. I’m not a science professor but I remember that one of the Laws of Physics says; “Two solid objects cannot occupy the same at the same time.” I couldn’t tell if she was oblivious, didn’t care or wasn’t up on her physics laws.
After we passed through the construction zone we went back to our regular speeds and as I passed the driver of the silver Mercedes I reflected on the truth of this Law of Physics in other parts of our lives. We have too many things which occupy our minds and spirits. We fill our homes, jobs, brains, and souls with trinkets which need constant attention. We rarely, if ever, find a place to leave everything behind and just be still. The objects we possess end up possessing us.
Simplicity scares us because we think we must get rid of things; “we can’t do without.” This is a lie. There are many objects, treasures, things that seem important which if we dared we could eliminate. Stillness of spirit, peace, eludes us because too many things occupy our lives.
This morning, on my way to worship, I passed a huge flock of birds inhabiting a neighbor’s front yard. Resisting the urge to honk my truck horn I noticed that the birds on the fringes of the mass, away from the center, took flight at sudden noises or unexpected movement of a cow or passerby. However, in the middle, the birds didn’t move, remained undisturbed.
I reflected on the longing I have to live in a similar way. I realize that scares and unexpected shifts in how life plays out may frighten me for a moment but I desire to be still in the center. I want to be undisturbed, grounded, at peace.
I am reminded of a verse from an old faith song; “When peace like a river, attends my way,
Or sorrows like giant sea waves roll; Whatever my lot, you have taught me to know, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”