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

In the Sight of Such Love

“You are my beloved . . . with you I am well pleased.” I find, even among people of faith, a certain reticence to being told they are God’s beloved. We often sidestep the issue: “Well, God only loves Jesus like that, not me.” Even now, as you’re reading this, you might be squirming a… Continue Reading →

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… Continue Reading →

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… Continue Reading →

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… Continue Reading →

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,… Continue Reading →

A Quiet Luminosity

When I was young I was attracted to power, and to powerful people: pro football stars, wealthy superheroes, politicians, business owners, and world leaders. Real or fictional, I loved the idea of people who could make things happen, who could get what they wanted out of life and affect change, people who could “leave their… Continue Reading →

Teresa of Jesus

“Let nothing disturb you,Let nothing frighten you,All things are passing away:God never changes.Patience obtains all thingsWhoever has God lacks nothing;God alone suffices.” For many, the word MYSTIC can conjure up images of stained-glass saints and ragged ascetics, or some VIP class of Christian who claims to have exclusive spiritual experiences of God, Christ, or Mary…. Continue Reading →

A Listening Church

“The Synod offers us the opportunity to become a listening Church, to break out of our routine and pause from our pastoral concerns in order to stop and listen. The Synod offers us the opportunity to become a Church of closeness, that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses herself in today’s problems and… Continue Reading →

An Evening Prayer

May He support us all the day long,till the shades lengthen and the evening comes,and the busy world is hushed,and the fever of life is over,and our work is done.Then in His mercy may He give us a safe lodging,and a holy restand peace at the last.Amen. —John Henry Newman (1801–1890) “Hail Mary, the Jesus… Continue Reading →

The Soul Knows

I will be celebrating my birthday this week and well, dear friends, it’s been a year. A new baby, a new job, a new house, an old pandemic, and on and on and on. On the bright side, I am now well into my late 30s, and I have finally discovered that life does not… Continue Reading →

Sunset at the Cathedral

My day begins with a quick dip into the office, where I talk to my hermanitas (I am hermanito) about everything going on in our lives. In just a few short years (and a once in a lifetime global pandemic), we have become as much a family as a workplace, which is to say that… Continue Reading →

Face to Face

When we gaze into the eyes of someone we love and cherish, it’s hard not to see God. The light we see in these faces, and the love they evoke in us, reminds us of God’s loving, sustaining presence in our lives. But when we feel alone or abandoned, it’s hard to imagine that God… Continue Reading →

Pilgrim Parents

It’s 3 a.m. and I wake to screaming. Bleary-eyed, I fumble around for the baby monitor. I can’t see a thing in the sunbright display, so I close my eyes and listen: “Waaaaaaa!” Which baby is that? “WAAAAAAAAA!!!!” I still can’t tell. Was that a raspy and sweet cry, or a shrill and loud cry?… Continue Reading →

Little Blessings

Before I got married I asked my father to give me his blessing. I had already asked my future father-in-law’s permission, and he had given it along with a lot of love and support. But for some reason, I needed my father to bless me. I’m not sure where it came from, what part deep… Continue Reading →

Graced Transitions

My children are light sleepers, so when they fall asleep on me in the rocking chair, it can be a real challenge to get them into their crib without waking them up. Over time I’ve learned the delicate art of pressing them close during the transfer. That way, even if the chair and the floor… Continue Reading →

The Final Word Is Love: A Year In Review

Roughly a year ago, those of us in the middle of the USA faced the prospect of an extended lockdown. The shelves of Costco were empty of toilet paper and canned goods, and new mask mandates and social distancing requirements were being enacted across the country. And then it felt like everything was just, canceled…. Continue Reading →

Stations of the Cross for the Pandemic

I wrote these Stations of the Cross with the Covid Pandemic in mind, as both a way to pray for those suffering but also to connect their suffering, and ours, with that of Christ. Each station recognizes the suffering of Christ at his passion, and connects that with a group that is suffering particularly during… Continue Reading →

5 thoughts on “Into the Littleness

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  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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