“Little drops of water and little grains of sand make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.” – Madeleine L’Engle from The Irrational Season
Her grandmother used to tell this to little Madeleine. It’s a reflection upon the smallest of things counting towards creating something larger. Making peace begins with a small kindness and grows. Making a home begins with a dream and some small item to give a sense of place; a certain coat hung in the closet, a piece of art, a living plant.
And I think this also counsels us in the value of remembering that it’s the tiny steps, the small progressions that lead us forth into the expansion and blossoming of our lives. And into that expansion even when life seems to contract. When some important piece has changed like a livelihood lost or a loved one passed on.
The little drops of water might be tears which, when poured out, cleanse us of our pain. And they might be small joys experienced or kindnesses offered which bathe us, revive us, quench our parched souls.
And the little grains of sand might be the agents of friction when we are drug unwillingly into another situation, painfully and slowly. And they might be tiny morsels of solidness to which we cling for safety until we find ourselves, finally, standing comfortably and capably on the ever-changing sands of life.
I think it’s well worth sitting with the statement. I find it creates a small and growing sense of joy within as I consider it. It’s encouraging while not demanding. It calls us to awareness of a truth: The smallest things matter.
This idea sustains me when I’m exhausted. I hope it does you too.
It’s important for the bees. The littlest drop of water can sustain a bee for quite some time, and it’s that tiny bee who in a vast ecosystem becomes the little grain of sand upon which much of our food supply is built.
The BeeKeeper and I are building a house in the North Texas Hill Country, and doing a fair portion of the work ourselves. I was on our roof last weekend helping to fill nail holes in the clerestory with putty in preparation for paint. The Texas heat has made the work all the more challenging. But with each little thing we complete, the house is becoming more whole. We do a bit of work to prepare for skilled craftsmen, they do their work and it’s so exciting to see it all coming together. Little drops of water.
And my family lost our patriarch in June. Daddy was 96. He was full of life and love and had many plans still to complete, but his body just wasn’t able to hold up any longer. He was hugging us and happy one day and a couple days later he left us. As the family was gathered at the hospital, my dear niece began to sing Amazing Grace. We all joined in. The hospital staff stopped outside the door and listened as we spread ourselves out in love toward Daddy, toward one another, and toward the staff who so gently walked with us in surrender to the moment and to our faith that all is well and will be. Little grains of sand.
And so from these moments come the next.
The BeeKeeper and I, and our cat, are happily ensconced with my mother while we finish our house build. Mom has us for company during a challenging time of adjustment. We have the comfort of her home while we finish the house (we had made arrangements to leave the house in Colleyville at the end of July). Our alternative was a form of unglamorous “glamping” at the build site. It’s been very good for us all. And I love having all the extra time to spend with my Mom.
In case you’re wondering, Mama is 94 and in wonderful health and vitality. She clipped some bag worms from one of the pecan trees the other day with a very large pair of snippers. She misses Daddy, but is doing quite well. She said that she has more life to live or she wouldn’t still be here, so she intends to live it. Wise words, I think.
I hope this little note has not made you sad. It’s meant to uplift. You see, in all the challenges we face there are little drops of water and little grains of sand everywhere. Look for them.