little things with great love
my walk to work these days is perilous. About two thirds of the property owners in Syracuse are civic-minded adults, and one third doesn’t deserve to own property at all. I am talking, of course, about snow and ice on their sidewalks. While there is a law mandating people clear the walks on their own property, it appears to go unenforced (even on the same block with a school, where I live).
This causes my spirit great outrage. If people can get their grass mowed (an aesthetic need), they should be able to clear their sidewalks (a safety issue). I’m one of the luckier pedestrians, since I don’t own a car but I do have a new pair of hiking boots that needed broken in – and I still do a lot of sliding on the ice.
(end rant. begin actual point.)
A block from my church, Planned Parenthood and the New Hope Pregancy Center sit side by side. The whole width of the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood is snow- and ice-free. The sidewalk and parking lot in front of New Hope are really, really icy.
Which organization displays greater care for the community and the frightened women approaching their doors?
(I hesitate to use this example; nonprofit work is hard and the last thing we need is to go around criticizing each other. I’m sure both organizations are really trying to help people. But…)
When I was a kid, there were a lot of Sunday School lessons on this verse: “Whatever you do, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father (Colossians 3:17).” I think the parents requested it so maybe they could have a few days off from trying to cajole us into doing our homework and chores. But since I’ve been going to Big Church, I’m not sure I’ve heard more than a few sermons on doing things with excellence. And this confuses me, especially when it comes to volunteer, nonprofit, and church work, which we are actually doing in the name of the Lord Jesus.
What does it mean to love the marginalized? Not to fix them or provide a service to them or deal with them? For that matter, what does it mean to love the people we live with or the people in the grocery store? There are never too many small acts of kindness and consideration in the world. The more I think about these Big Problems like Poverty and these Hard Things like Community, the more I wonder if they don’t all come down to one little thing at a time.
It’s easy to get burned out and start letting the little things go. But I pray that we can learn to take joy in those little things. That we can do our jobs one day, one moment at a time, and remember that our excellence and those extras serve as signs of hope for a beautiful world, not a barely-maintained one.