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NO BIG THING
July 31, 2012
 
Each person I have seen today wants to create something: a reborn spiritual life, a marriage, a new career. And each is overwhelmed by the sheer size of the undertaking - the distance between where I am and where I long to be is so vast. How will I ever walk it?

You will walk it one step at a time. The same way you walk everything else.

There really aren't any big things. There are only collections of small things. A garment is a collection of folds and stitches; you take one stitch at a time. A book is a collection of pages; you write each page one word at a time. A marathon is a collection of strides. You can only take at a time.

Certainly you have an eye on the whole. Each step, each page, each fold and each stitch arises from the one that preceded it, and they fit together, bit by bit, building themselves into something substantial. But each bit manages to be part of the whole simply by being itself. I am just a stitch. I am just a word. But the community of which I am a part is a designer dress. It is a poem. It is a journey of a lightyears, though I am only one step.

Your table is a group of boards, glued together so well it looks seamless, sanded smooth and then rubbed with oil until it glows. Solid as a rock, you say approvingly, rapping it with your knuckles. But your table is also a group of molecules, in constant motion but held together by the soundless language of their mutual attraction. Or perhaps it is not soundless, deep within your teeming table -- perhaps they spout poetry, sing songs, those molecules that flock together and form your table, a collection we are foolish enough to believe is inert. Not so; nothing is inert. Everything moves.

These thoughts are simultaneously profoundly comforting and deeply alarming. Is nothing still? Nope --not a damn thing. Everything trembles with the motion of its own creation and its own version of longing. And so we are all alive together, all matter: some of us organic, some inorganic, a distinction that shrinks in importance as we contemplate it. None of us is ever alone.

And none of us is ever finished. My energy lives on, when my body is gone, at work in another place, on another task. Its first task, I think, will be composting the memorial garden here at the church. But it will help a seed grow into a plant, and a bumblebee will fly off with a bit of pollen from the plant on one of his feet. Returning to his hive, he will contribute what he has to the common honey factory. One day a farmer will smoke out the hive and carry a comb of it inside. Her daughter will eat it on her bread, and will grow up to be a dancer. To her amazement, one of her sons will run a gas station and the other one will become an engineer.

I will not be in their genome, no. But my energy will have brought them to be. Not all by itself, of course. My energy has never been all by itself.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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