Monday, February 8, 2010

Meditation: Small & Simple Things

When my husband and I were teaching English in Japan after we were first married, one of our students presented us with a beautiful calligraphy painting of a Japanese proverb. Roughly translated it means “Little by little the dirt grows into a mountain”. The phrase resonated with me, probably because it bears resemblance to one of my favorite scriptures: “by small and simple things are great things come to pass” (Alma 37:6).

This scripture has become a sort of family motto around our home. I’m a big believer in the power of words. The Japanese proverb is displayed for all to see as a daily reminder of the idea put forth by Mother Theresa that “we cannot do great things. We can only do little things with great love.”

David O. McKay spoke of the power of small and simple acts:
“There is no one great thing that we can do to obtain eternal life and it seems to me that the great lesson to be learned in the world today is... in the little acts and duties of life... Let us not think that because some… things seems small and trivial that they are unimportant. Life, after all, is made up of little things. Our life, our being, physically, is made up here of little heart beats. Let that little heart stop beating and life in this world ceases. The great sun is a mighty force in the universe, but we receive the blessings of his rays because they come to us as little beams, which, taken in the aggregate, fill the whole world with sunlight.”

In our home we try to do those little things every day. Writing thank you notes. Delivering muffins to a new mom. Hanging out around the washing machine to make sure everyone has clean clothes to wear. Cooking nutritious meals every day. Blowing bubbles, reading books, even blogging. But there are so many times when I’ve reached the end of a day or week (or year!) and think to myself that I don’t really have anything to show for it. I receive no paycheck. I don’t have any awards or write-ups in the local paper. Very few people outside of my circle would recognize my name. I don’t have a brand-name line and I haven’t been published. And I still haven’t won that Oscar (sigh).

It can be difficult to remember that great things have come to pass, even if no one else notices or recognizes it.  Babies have been born, friendships strengthened, people nurtured...

I’m not trying to pat myself on the back for being a good mama. (Okay, maybe I am a little.) But my point is that these words: “by small and simple things are great things come to pass” have shaped my attitude, my outlook, and my days. I like having a family motto, something to live by.

What about you? What words inspire you?

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