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Embracing Littleness

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Dream commune designed by 2018-19 Casa San Salvador residents.

Editor’s Note: DC Service Corps volunteer, Amy Brandt, reflects on the purpose behind the smaller details of her daily routine and how they play a powerful role in the bigger picture. 

I’m a big picture kind of gal. I have dreams and I long to dive into them. My community members can attest to this, as I have tried to rope them into my dream of owning a lavender farm. This desire for bold action especially arises within me when I stand in front of injustices in our Church, our government, and our communities. I get easily discouraged by how little power I have. While a hippy commune on a lavender farm in Montana sounds like a decent solution to all this chaos, lately my big picture thinking has been challenged by a concept of “littleness”.

St. Francis of Assisi often reflected on the idea of littleness. He saw himself as a little brother to everyone else. His littleness had power because he opened his eyes and his heart to the little ways he could serve. While St. Francis could probably relate to the desire to ditch everything and live off the grid, he’s been teaching me something about being present and turning the “insignificant” tasks of daily life into acts of service.

When you think of a year of service, you probably think of someone working at a soup kitchen or volunteering at a hospital. My service position at Franciscan Mission Service is a little different. As the Communications Associate, I spend majority of my time in an office in front of a computer. While I can easily find purpose in my tasks, sometimes I feel unsure of how my little tasks will play a role in the greater mission of our creator.

But I offer what I can; I offer myself.

Through daily invitations, I put my efforts, passions, and talents to work in little ways. I create images inspired by my reflections of the Gospel. I make birthday cards for former volunteers. I answer the phone and listen to people considering a year of service. I eat lunch with my fellow volunteers and share what’s on our minds. I help publish blogs so that missioner experiences overseas are shared with their supporters. I walk to the Basilica everyday at 3pm and smile at the security guard.

These tasks are small, but they have purpose. They often require all that my littleness has to offer. It’s amazing how the minor details of everyday life are simultaneously exhausting and fulfilling.

Image designed by Amy for FMS’ social media series, Welcome to Sunday.

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything.” (Mark 12:44) We are called to simply acknowledge our littleness and trust that our investment in the little details have value.

It’s becoming clear to me that Christ dwells in the details. Christ whispers my name in the cold DC wind on the walk to work. Christ sits joyfully at the dinner table where my community eats dinner together every night. Christ delights in the messiness of my artistic endeavors like a proud parent delights in their child’s finger painting. Christ marches with me on the National Mall at the March for Life and the Women’s March.

You can either see your “littleness” as an immobilizing quality, or a you can gratefully receive it with a humble heart. When the brokenness of our nation, our Church, our communities outshine the beauty of this world, I am invited to zoom out. See just how small my role is. And then I zoom back in and see how much power my littleness has. When I actively choose to let love motivate these little actions, they can inspire other little actions rooted in love, and soon enough this ripple effect of a collective family striving for sanctity will make waves that will tackle seemingly untouchable injustices.

Reflection Question: How is Christ inviting you to surrender frustrations that may accompany your own “littleness”?