"It's a design flaw."
My mother's words drift from the sink, her milky white hands scrubbing dishes, skillet and spatula immersed under suds, and I'm searching. Cabinets banging shut, pots clattering, enamelware clanging. "Yes, I agree, a design flaw. Such a little piece, and if it's lost, the entire appliance is rendered useless." I shuffle cutlery about, wondering if the child who responsibly put away the dishes may have inadvertently dropped that wee center gizmo for the Bosch food processor in here. Or here? "It's like the weight that sits atop the pressure cooker," I mutter, rifling through oven mitts. "If you don't have that little piece, all grinds to a halt."
I turn to Mama, looking upon her crown of white suspended over stainless steel scoured. She feels the look close and receives it with warm eyes, eyebrows arched, inviting thoughts to step out into the open, and through.
So they do: "I think little things are actually the big things."
Little things like weights for pressure cookers, gizmos for processors, easy smiles for children, and long hugs for husbands. Peering into the corner of cupboards, I think how little things are the minute gears necessary to move the titanic arm of God, small things that move heavy hearts.
Doesn't the significant, humble by its very nature, masquerade as the insignificant?
And I realize, as I stand atop a chair to inspect a top cupboard, how very wrong I am. This is no design flaw, but rather, the wisdom at the heart of a Designer who values the least of these. "Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
Makes the mighty ocean, and the beauteous land."
More than the little simply comprising one microscopic element of the grandiose, the momentous moves by very virtue of that which is but a moment. Or it is no more.
I scour a kitchen while Mama scours pots, and it buffs up, how moments leverage a life and little acts of love, little resistances, little noble stands, they wield this existence of ours. "And the little moments, humble though they be, make the mighty ages of eternity." The diminutive fuels the portentous, the seemingly unessential being in fact the most essential of all.
I don't know why it comes, but that it is the peculiar ways of Him who is Spirit, but standing there at a loss in the kitchen, having a processor assembled with all the pieces save for a singular, unremarkable piece, I see with startling clarity that the loss of a little thing like prayer immobilizes the entire scope of a life of faith. When a life doesn't — won't — work, is prayer the integral missing piece? Prayer appears disposable. And yet, a rudder under the hulk of a life, hidden far below the waters, it steers—no, more: propels — a soul Homeward. Do I not pray more because I foolishly deem the small thing inconsequential?
Doesn't the adage go to the effect, "Don't sweat the small stuff! And it is all small stuff"? I understand the sentiment, and, in large measure appreciate the directive. Yet sometimes I wonder, especially when the misplacing of one small component of a kitchen appliance brings a meal preparation to a standstill, if the small stuff, (which, true, is much of life), isn't actually worthy of most of our attention. Because much of life hinges on it.
Standing on tiptoe, feeling along a shelf, I whisper a prayer for a little food processor gizmo. And fingers find it in a green splatterware bowl, tucked back behind.
Mama's smile catches mine at the sound of this whirling processor.
On prayer's hub, we listen to life hum.
Father God, am I paying attention to life's smallest, biggest stuff?
Photo: processor gizmo and pressure cooker weight found. Photo courtesy of Holy Experience and Ann Voskamp.