When you have a child with special needs, you re-discover the lessons that you already learned.
So when Christopher’s toilet continued to back up this last week, I knew that it was time to revive my non-existent plumbing skills. I turned off the water supply, drained the toilet, undid it from the floor, and fished with a broken clothes hanger.
Sure enough, there it was: a small flat toy he put down the toilet when he was angry two weeks ago. It reminded me of a toothbrush I fished out over seven years ago.
I was amazed at how something so small could cause such frustration and damage.
But isn’t that what we are experiencing right now? Here is this unseen virus, spread by touch? By breath? By contact? We are not completely sure. And yet, this COVID-19 virus has brought the entire world to a halt. As I write this, the world is closing on nearly 5 million confirmed cases and more than 300,000 deaths. All but 11 or 12 countries have cases identified. And when you read this, those numbers will have all increased.
Something so small has caused such great damage.
But haven’t we always known this to be the case? The book of James describes the damage of the power of words in this way: “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire.” (James 3:5-6) We probably can all remember how a small negative word said to us still tears at us years later. We probably can all remember how we said a word to someone that hurt them deeply.
Words, the coronavirus, and small toys and toothbrushes – such little things can cause such great damage!
But if that be the case, can we turn the image around?
If something small can cause such great damage, can we not also believe that something small can cause great good? Can you remember how a simple gesture or word from someone transformed your day, perhaps even your life?
When we experienced the first of four miscarriages, I remember our reluctance to go to church. We entered late intentionally, for we knew that most of the congregation knew. And when we sat down, a couple in front of us turned around, simply put a hand on Mary’s knee and said, “You know, we love you.”
Such a small gesture, and, yet, what a powerful, comforting impact!
So in the midst of this pandemic, what small act or word or gesture are you called to do?
It can start by simply wearing a mask and keeping our social distance to show our love for our neighbor.
It can happen when we send a note or a card to someone to thank them for being who they are and what they mean.
It can happen when we reach out and call someone we know that is isolated and alone.
It can happen when we offer a smile to someone who is down, a listening ear to someone who is struggling, or a prayer for someone who is hurting.
And if you are not sure where to begin, simply pray and be open and aware of the opportunities that present themselves to you each day.
It is not about doing something big. Rather, as Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Let us not let small toys, viruses, and negative words have the final say.
Let us let smiles and kindness and gentleness and care and love be our first word and final word.
Let us do small things with great love.