Simplicity. Beauty in details. The Way of the Small by Michael Gellert (May 2009)

Susan's Thursday morning note May 28, 2009 
The Way of the Small by Michael Gellert
Simplicity.  Beauty in details. 

Good morning!  It’s taking me quite a few trips to the refrigerator & coffeemaker this morning to get this letter finished!!!!  If you aren’t in Nebraska this week you’re missing out!  The corn is just popping up – a new blanket of light green covering the barrenness of the last few months…created just for us!  The small…the details…the beauty.  Humus in Latin means the soil or earth.  Emily Dickinson writes on the simplicity of just a small stone, the dirt…the beauty of simplicity…I like the idea that the stone’s simple life was the master plan of God – divine decree…how many of us would define our lives as a “simple” life in our own minds – and think that is not important or uninteresting or non-impacting.  Appreciate simplicity in your life…even if that means thinking you are unknown….your decree from God may be simplicity…appreciating the tiny flower…giving Him praise…being one who likes solitude, quiet, peace, thinking, praying, walking…what our culture may think of as “uninvolved and reclusive.”  That may be the most beautiful attribute given by God – to lead a simple life.  We have kept a book in our home, The Way of the Small: Why Less is Truly More by Michael Gellert.  I’ll write out for you  what I marked in this book – quotes on accepting solitude, making decisions one small step at a time, and seeing God in little details of our lives.

How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn’t care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears   (I didn’t know what that meant, either!  Exigency means crisis, urgency, emergency) 
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity.  (Emily Dickinson)

And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.  (I Kings 19:11-12)


The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting starting is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.  (Mark Twain)

A tree as big as a man’s embrace grows from a tiny shoot.

A tower of nine stories begins with a heap of earth.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

Probably the most dangerous pitfall of any venture is at its beginning, for we do not yet have the confidence and sustained motion to keep us going…Not only do great successes often have difficult beginnings, but it is by virtue of this difficulty and how it is worked that the great success arises…

Like the salmon who needs to go against the current to return to its place of origin and give birth, we, too, must sometimes go against the flow in order to truly go with it.  Life is difficult and we must battle our fears or laziness, and when others disapprove of our changes, we must battle their resistance, too.  It is important to know when to go with the flow and when to go against it.  Happiness is more often the fruit of hard work than the result of fortuitous things that happen to us.

Seizing Small Moments:

Sometimes there’s God so quickly. (Tennessee Williams)  (Shooting stars, rainbows, sunsets, child’s quick smile, memories given in a dream…)

Don’t worry about personal imperfections – they make us who we are…
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.  (Leonard Cohen)


Day to Day – Unexpected joys/sorrows in each day of our life – accept them, grow from them, don’t turn from what comes your way. by Poet Rumi:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


The author concludes with describing the day-to-day lives of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Schweitzer, Mandela…all came upon an appreciation of the eternal or divine through the way of the small….through an ordinary kind: all found the divine by making everyday life sacred.  Mandela even found the divine in a prison cell…but one does not have to be one of those four to discover the scared in ordinary life…they did not reach this discovery through their greatness, but through their smallness…I think again of God’s creation in Emily Dickinson’s poem above – his creation of a small stone.  So insignificant from our perspective, but created for a purpose.  Do not think anything about your life is insignificant.  You were divinely created, as each person you come in contact with today.  God may have created you for living a life of solitude, maybe for living a life that is exposed…who knows.  Accept where you are.  Notice the beauty, notice God…notice the details.

Let’s appreciate where we are…as in the other poem above…accept the guests that arrive at our door.  We cannot change our circumstances, but we can change how we accept what has knocked on our door and entered.  Joys, sorrows, our guests.  Accept our cards, as we read last week….observe details and try to seize the small moments when God can be seen – so quickly…take time to notice.  Life is sacred.  Short.  The years glide by.  Go take on your day – make it count….you can’t get time back.  Thanks for letting me be in your Thursday – have a cup of coffee.  Notice the little dragonfly on your windowsill before your child thinks it is his/her duty to rid the world of that fleeting beauty.  Notice everything!  Susan

Latin for this week:
humilis - low, small, slight

Works Cited:
Gellert, Michael.  The Way of the Small.  2008.  Nicolas-Hays, Inc.  Lake Worth, FL.