Into the Littleness

“Dear sister or brother, if, as in Bethlehem, the darkness of night overwhelms you, if you feel surrounded by cold indifference, if the hurt you carry inside cries out, “You are of little account; you are worthless; you will never be loved the way you want”, tonight, if this is what you are feeling, God answers back. He tells you: “I love you just as you are. Your littleness does not frighten me, your failings do not trouble me. I became little for your sake. To be your God, I became your brother. Dear brother, dear sister, don’t be afraid of me. Find in me your measure of greatness. I am close to you, and one thing only do I ask: trust me and open your heart to me.'”

– Pope Francis, Midnight Mass Homily 2021

As I look back on 2021 (is it really almost over???), and prepare for 2022 (I feel like I am still processing 2020… ), I am struck by all the big things that happened this past year: the move to a new house while starting a new job, a new vaccine (and a new variant… sigh), and a big return to normality (with some storm clouds on the horizon) seem to have focused and exhausted most of my energy. But when I find myself dwelling on the “big things” that have passed and the big things to come, I find I am a little more anxious, a little more uncertain, and a little more worried.

In those moments, it’s helpful for me to remember the little things that bring me back to myself, to God, and to the light shining through all things: The way the birds chat before they feed at the feeder, the way the morning light shines through the blinds atop the boys’ bunkbed, the little steps of my one year old, and his first babbly words: “mama-mama” then “dada-dada” and now we have “up” and “mo” and “cracker” and even the dreaded “nononono.”

Little things are often overlooked. You can’t often put them on your resume or turn them into a tidy profit. But we overlook them at our own risk, as often they are the most essential things for our spiritual, psychological, and emotional health.

I predict 2022 will be filled with lots of big things, most of them out of our control. We can choose to become caught up in the new narratives, the ever changing bullseyes of public opinion, the fickle invitations of drama that emerge from our personal and professional lives. Or, we can choose to be little, and to let the little things of God teach us how to be little: how to make room for others, how to be hospitable with our attention and with ourselves, how to set boundaries to preserve our peace, how to stay small and centered and hopeful in the midst of frantic activity.

In the words of contemplative teacher Jim Finley: “That which is essential never imposes itself for love is always offered, it’s never imposed, and that which in unessential is constantly imposing itself.”

How can we choose to attend to that which is truly essential this year, that which never imposes itself? How can we remain centered in the love of God and the peace that surpasses all understanding? How can we guard our hearts from those unessential things that are always imposing themselves and that leave us worn out and exhausted?

These questions are my resolutions for 2022, ones I will carry with me in my heart this new year, to ponder, to wonder, and, hopefully, to live.


I am, utterly and completely, grateful for being able to write more in 2021, and grateful to all those who read my writing. I’m hopeful that 2022 will be a time where I can bring more words into being, and discover new ways to connect with writers and readers. Thank you all, as always, for your words of support and affirmation. They are truly treasured.

I wish you a Happy New Year, many blessings, and lots of “little” things in the year ahead.

2021 Posts

Evil is not inevitable

It wasn’t a particularly inspiring line from yesterday’s Gospel that stuck with me during my prayer: “The ruler of this world has been condemned.” And yet there it was, nearly jumping of the page. I thought, perhaps, it connected with some of the research I was doing on the New Testament understanding of salvation. Certainly, …

Washing His Feet

He limped in off the street, leaning on a wheelchair that had “2nd Floor Pain Clinic” written on the seat. On the back, it just said “PAIN” in large letters. We had just endured twelve days of subzero temperatures in Kansas City, with lows in the negative teens. At Morning Glory Ministries, a social outreach …

Is hope possible?

I went to bed with a heavy heart last night. War, violence, and terror, once again. I remember watching the towers fall on live TV, my senior year of high school. I remember my college experience shaded by the war on terror, the destruction of Iraq and the long quagmire in Afghanistan. When I graduated, …

A Jesus Prayer

Jesus My life, my love, and my hope I am beset by many anxieties as I walk the well trod path behind you. Jesus You asked me to follow youa long time agoand I havethrough times of bitter painand searing fearto delightful oases of rest,and peace,and joyful service. Jesus Help me not to lose hopeor …

A Listening Church and the New Evangelization

My article on being a Listening Church and the New Evangelization has been published by the National Catholic Reporter today. You can read it here: https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/new-evangelization-has-problems-synodal-approach-can-help Additionally, I’ve written a short book on the Synod on Synodality called “Your Church Needs to Hear from You: What is the Synod on Synodality?” that will be published …

Begin Again

“Let us begin again, sisters and brothers, for up until now we have done little or nothing,” St. Francis of Assisi was fond of saying often. He even supposedly said it on his deathbed, as his “Sister Death” drew near. As Christmas draws near, and the New Year soon after, it might be helpful to …

Everything Afire

“Earth’s crammed with heaven,And every common bush afire with God,But only he who sees takes off his shoes;The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” ― Elizabeth Barrett Browning Don’t pluck too many blackberries this Advent, or this one precious life. At some point, awaken to the fiery presence of God in everything around you, hidden …

Ocean of Love

“One day while I was praying, I lost all sense of God’s presence,” he said, and I could hear the pain in his voice. “It was just me, alone, talking to an empty room. Just talking to myself.” We were at coffee, talking about faith, and about how sometimes spiritual growth can feel more like …

Our Beloved Dead

For All Souls’ Day, 2021 The souls of the just are in the hand of God,    and no torment shall touch them.They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;    and their passing away was thought an affliction    and their going forth from us, utter destruction.But they are in peace.For if before men, …

5 Replies to “Into the Littleness”

  1. Reading your personal reflections for the first time today in “ give us this day” I feel blessed and in a better place. Thank you for making your writings available. I feel at peace now with your thoughts to reflect on today.

    Liked by 1 person

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