Friday, February 5, 2010
Small is truly beautiful
I continue to mull over these lines that I came across today as I read Jean Vanier's The Broken Body in preparation for a Sunday school discussion I am leading on hospitality. I thought immediately of two different friends in two different areas of Wisconsin who are in the early years of planting new churches. I hope if they are reading, they will find encouragement.
But as these words began to sink in, I heard a message for me as well. My world has grown very small in the last five years as a mother. I no longer interact with hundreds of people a day as a I once did; I no longer travel around the country as I once did. Even my ability to get out of the house on a given day is much more limited with 3 young children! This has been something that has been frustrating to me at times--I had bought into the idea that doing big things, public things, things that paid good money were what made life meaningful and without the big things life was suffocating. Vanier suggests seeing the small as the necessary way to be bonded in love and to belong in community. This has led me to ponder these words then not just for small churches but our small family:
It is sometimes difficult
in communities which are small
and where only a few broken people seem to receive life
to believe that it all has meaning.
There is something in us all
which thinks that 'big is beautiful'.
We feed we must do big things,
strike at the source of evil and not the symptoms,
do good on a large scale
welcome and save more and more people,
propagate a message all over the world,
speak on television.
But the more we do this,
the more we risk losing the essential,
uprooting ourselves from the bonds of love;
thus we begin to die.
The basis of true human life,
is a rooting in the earth,
fidelity to those to whom we are bonded in love,
carrying one another's burdens,
sharing with them their joy and their pain.
It is compassion and forgiveness.
Small is truly beautiful.
Jesus spent thirty gentle, loving years
with Joseph and Mary,
teaching us about rooting, about a sense of belonging,
and forming community.
Nazareth is our school of life
to live humbly in the presence of God,
to work with our hands,
to welcome people as they are
with their gifts and their hurts,
to walk in truth,
to open our hearts to people and to nature.
And it will be from there,
from fidelity and love
for those with whom we are called to live,
that we might be called to stand firm
against insolent might and power structures;
called also to the struggle
to help each person find
their rightful place in society and in the Church,
and the space in which to grow.
It will be from there that each of us,
according to our call and our gift,
will become an agent of change and of love
for the whole society. (p. 137-138)
Blessings to those of you that are currently in the school of Nazareth. May you find the place you are rooting, though small, is truly beautiful.
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” – Psalm 1:3a (ESV)