Small Things

A walk on a mild autumn afternoon amidst the falling golden Aspens. The air is warm and crisp. The wind rustles the quaking leaves. The color is brilliant hues of yellow, gold and brown. It is quiet. The sky a deep blue that contrasts the fading summer vegetation and complements the bright fingers that reach up to offer their crowns of gold. Take it in…

Sit down by the waters’ edge, a bit cooler here, but the sun’s warmth wraps around just enough. Squirrels play. A curious fowl befriends. The water sparkles like a million twinkling lights. Brush to paper. Take it in deeper…

Franciscan friar, Richard Rohr states, "One flower, one frog, one dog, one tree—that’s what it takes to pull you into the depth of anything. And when you get to the depth of anything, for some wonderful reason, you have the power to get to the deeper stream, the universal. God is found at the depth of anything." A Mason education is designed to take it in and go ‘into the depth of anything’. We read Frost, Dickens and Shakespeare. We listen to Brahms, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. We look at the works of Monet, Durer and Constable. We contemplate Job and the gospels. We take it all in slowly, deeply. We work with our hands to sew, hammer and dig. We take nature walks to awaken our senses to keen observation that reveals our Creator’s handiwork and character. We take in the particular, that which perhaps most of the world might consider small things.

Small things for many go unnoticed because we live in a fast-paced, self-indulgent culture that is constantly distracting us from taking in the small things in a small way. Here is a great sadness and neglect of education and the fullness of life. Education is in the slow, simple, small things. In her chapter entitled Education and the Fullness of Life Mason writes, "We are doing something; we are trying to open the book of nature to children by the proper key—knowledge, acquaintance by look and name, if not more, with bird and flower and tree; we see too, that the magic of poetry makes knowledge vital, and children and grown-ups quote a verse which shall add blackness to the ashbud, tender wonder to that ‘flower in the crannied wall,’ a thrill to the song of the lark…Saturday rambles mean not only ‘life,’ but splendid joy." (Mason, vol. 6 A Philosophy of Education)

Small things reveal universal truth, beauty and goodness. In a Mason education, we take these in through the study of God’s man, God’s world and God Himself. We do this slowly, little by little, in small ways to digest the ideas on which we have feasted. In this way we build relationships with this world and it’s story. "What we are concerned with is the fact that we personally have relations with all that there is in the present, all that there has been in the past, and all that there will be in the future—with all above us and all about us—and that fulness of living, expansion, expression, and serviceableness, for each of us, depend upon how far we apprehend these relationships and how many of them we lay hold of." (Mason, vol. 3 School Education)

When we are in relationship we devote ourselves to something other than ourselves. We see the humanity in others and ourselves reflected in them. We see God reflected in His creation. And we begin to care. Small things make us care. Small things begin great works within ourselves to go, do and be in this world. So, take them in. Take them into the depths.

"Small Things" by Anna Kamienska

It usually starts taking shape

from one word

reveals itself in one smile

sometimes in the blue glint of eyeglasses

in a trampled daisy

in a splash of light on a path

in quivering carrot leaves

in a bunch of parsley

It comes from laundry hung on a balcony

from hands thrust into dough

It sleeps through closed eyelids

as through the prison wall of things of objects

of faces of landscapes

It’s when you slice bread

when you pour out some tea

It comes from a broom from a shopping bag

from peeling new potatoes

from a drop of blood from the prick of a needle

when making panties for a child

or sewing a button on a husband’s burial shirt

It comes of toil out of care

out of the immense fatigue in the evening

out of tear wiped away

out of a prayer broken off in mid-word by sleep

It’s not from the grand

but from the tiny thing

that it grows enormous

as if Someone was building Eternity

as a swallow its nest

out of clumps of moments