Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse (a small bird) asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.
“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said.
“I sat on a fir branch, close to its trunk, when it began to snow–not heavily, not in a raging blizzard–no, just like in a dream, without a wind, without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing, as you say, the branch broke off.”
Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.
You see, it takes just one snowflake to make a difference.
Every once in a while, we’ve all been pestered by the question, “Does what I do, or give, or offer, make any difference? Does it mean anything?” Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make me wonder.
Recently, I’ve heard people confess, “Why even try?” And I get it.
But I have found that this question (Do I make a difference?) messes with me only when I assume that something is missing from my life. Or that I need to prove something to someone. And it doesn’t help that we live in a culture that assumes “enough is never enough.” (Only ensuring that we will respond to the question with an even more frenzied lifestyle.)
I do know this: When our paradigm is about performance (and our identity attached to such), we see any endeavor, including kindness, under the microscope of a race or contest or beauty pageant.
A recent conversation with a friend about authentic leadership, and making a difference. And we begin with this certainty: leadership is not a device. Or a tack-on skill. Or only for those with the proper business card. Authentic leadership lives in every one of us, and is born in the willingness to create a space where another person can shine.
We derail when it’s only about numbers. You know, our national paradigm. How many? How big? How fast? How new?
Without adequate answers to those questions, we concede that there must be little to show for our efforts.
And I am reminded of David Orr’s quote. I refer to it often. “The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind.”
Yes. One snowflake at a time.
So. Our focus—on making a difference—will be predicated on our paradigm, and the primary questions we ask. If we begin with, “How successful are you?” that becomes our metric for what matters. No wonder we can spiral into doubt, gloom, comparison and envy.
But what if… we ask a different question, using a different paradigm? Let me tell you a story. This from Howard Behar (former President of Starbucks).
Jim lived in a nursing home across the street from a Starbucks in Santa Monica, CA. Every day at 2 pm Jim would walk over for his blueberry muffin and black coffee. Every day the baristas could count on seeing Big Jim (their nickname for their 6’6” new friend). They would laugh and chat and tease and find ways to be open and warm. Because the staff was drawn to Big Jim, they would jot notes on his coffee cup or on the sack that carried his muffin. “Hope you have a good day.” “Keep smiling.” “We’re glad you are our friend, Big Jim.”
One day at 2, no Jim. 3… then 4… One of the managers carried a coffee and muffin across the street to the nursing home. “I’m here to give Jim his coffee,” he told the woman at the desk.
“I’m sorry to tell you this,” she said, “Jim died in his sleep last night.”
It was a sad day in the Starbucks store. The next day, one of Jim’s children dropped by to ask a favor. “Is it possible for all of you to attend Jim’s memorial service?” They said yes, found a way to cover the work assignments, and the entire store afternoon staff attended.
When they walked into the room where the service would be held, there were round tables with chairs. On the tables? All the cups and sacks with the notes. Big Jim had saved every single one of them.
Yes indeed. Just one little thing can make all the difference.
So, what if we begin our day with this question “In what ways today, can I nurture and inspire the human spirit, raise the flags of compassion and healing and restoration, and make a fellow human glad to be alive?” (FYI; if we are looking for the ROI—return on investment—on kindness, we’re asking the wrong question.)
Today. I am willing to do what I can, with what I have been given, with a full, grateful and willing heart.
I am willing to not worry about the outcome.
I am willing not to worry about what people think or say, or how acts of kindness will be measured in the court of public opinion.
I am willing to literally, let it be.
One snowflake at a time.
Here’s the deal: our journey to wholeness and wholeheartedness is not about becoming something I am not. The journey is about reflecting what is already there. Inside. It is about making a difference, by just being you.
So, why are we afraid to let this be enough?
To know that, even as a single snowflake, there is enough. In fact, there is abundance, to know that one kind touch means the world.
You may doubt it if you wish. But know this, you still make a difference.
Our weather here is fall-like, a wind that rolls the clouds through the sky, with outbursts of heavy rain. And then, the clouds part, and the sky opens, revealing the hope-blue sky. On my way home from lunch here in Port Ludlow, I looked up it is perfection. I stop the car and pull over. A rainbow arching the length and width of the sky, a blessing which takes me back to power of difference making snowflakes. The rainbow, after all, is gratefully, just being a rainbow.
Quotes for your week…
The woods would be very silent if only the best birds sang.
SABBATH MOMENT BULLETIN BOARD
Today’s Photo Credit: “‘Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth.’– Herman Hesse. This tree is on Lake Chaminwood near Channahon, IL,” Joe Durepos… Thank you Joe… Keep sending your photos… send to firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, your gift makes a difference… Donation = Love…
Help make Sabbath Moment possible. I write SM because I want to live with a soft heart; to create a place for sanctuary, empathy, inclusion, compassion and kindness… a space where we are refueled to make a difference. SM remains free.
(NEW address by check: PO Box 65336, Port Ludlow, WA 98365)
Join Me… Upcoming Events… Join me…
Oct 25 – 28 Fall Camp Shrine Mont. Orkney Springs, VA
Nov 5 – 7 Life in the Garden, Hinton Rural Life Center, Hayesville, NC
Dec 10 – 12 Men’s Retreat, Franciscan Renewal Center, Scottsdale, AZ
In the mailbag…
–Thank you Terry. I needed this reflection today. Father Mychal had it. Suit up and go where you are needed. Isn’t that the core of the gospel? And I get so frustrated and yes, angry at my Catholic church for the rigidity and the hypocrisy… missing the point!! I live with a few sisters (I am a Franciscan) who get so caught up with minute rules of church teaching that the miss God’s amazing grace and presence right here. It is as if we are living with our eyes closed… missing the Great VIEW… We may need what Jesus did to the blind man. Rub our eyes with the mud that blinds us so that we may see… Thank you for letting me gripe! Many blessings on your day Mercedes
–Dear Terry, I find it so funny and exhilarating that your message this day mirrors my own blog yesterday and my thoughts today on Yom Kippur. Rest, refreshment and replenishment also call me in priority fashion! Yes, we must Ring the Bells that still can ring, and let the Light in for there are cracks everywhere! I think they are magic! I can only hope that my everyday life which is so very ordinary brings a flicker of justice to the world; if that is my only legacy, I shall expel a sigh of relief. Thank you so much for your Sabbath Moment essays! They brighten my life each morning and start my day. How awesome that is, to begin the day with such hope to guide me! Thank you! Beth
–Loved your Sabbath Moment yesterday. I went to Mass yesterday as I do daily and thanked God for your words of love, prayer, and peace. I will turn 80 in a couple of months and on this day would have celebrated my anniversary with my long-ago lost husband. Gone 27 years ago. God blessed me with 4 terrific grandchildren that their grandpa never met in person but lives in all of them today. My life has been blessed with reading your words every week and I thank God for you and all you do for those you minister to daily. Please say hello to the geese. They are God’s gift to you as you are Gods gift to all you reach through your words. God bless and thank you. Kathleen
POEMS AND PRAYERS
You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.
Charlotte to Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web
I give thanks for arriving
Safely in a new dawn,
For the gift of eyes
To see the world,
The gift of mind
To feel at home
In my life.
The waves of possibility
Breaking on the shore of dawn,
The harvest of the past
That awaits my hunger,
And all the furtherings
This new day will bring.
From his books, Benedictus (Europe)
To Bless the Space Between Us
Whisper Like An Angel
Have you learned how to whisper like an Angel
Have you learned how to stand up to death
Have you learned that life is as strong as its weakest link
Have you learned that truth never rests
Have you learned that love will save you
Have you learned how to whisper like an Angel