One Very Small Thing, A Thousand Very Small Things

This week I wrote a little piece for my good friend Addie on one small change we can make in our lives in order to see justice come.

For anyone that knows me, I don’t do one small things very well. I want to talk about ALL THE THINGS, ALL THE TIME. I’m a teensy bit intense. But the more I thought about it and talked it over with a few friends, we all agreed that when it comes down to it, the only thing you have to do to turn your life upside-down is open wide the doors to whatever it is that God is calling you towards. It’s really that simple, but trust me–it will get complicated and wonderful and terrible, fast.

So I wrote about opening wide our doors, and how for me that happened when I started volunteering with refugees.

As I wrote, I couldn’t shake the image of Syria out of my mind. I couldn’t escape the bits of rhetoric and argument I caught on social media sites, the words of the President shocking my ears. I couldn’t quite figure out what I thought about the whole mess, because I was being told that bombing was loving and that not bombing was hateful. I thought about how perhaps the best way is the smallest way, the mustard seed way, the upside down kingdom way. How maybe instead of rushing into Syria with weapons, we can open wide the doors to our hearts, our homes, our cities, and our countries to other stateless wanderers, people whose lives have been stolen by the greedy and the powerful.

It’s hard to type this out here and hit publish. I know already what people will say, how childish and foolish and micro it all sounds, knitting away while Detroit burns (or teaching ESL while gangs kill each other, or praying for people you have never met who are starving, or in danger of being gassed, or dying of preventable diseases). It is all those things, of course: small, weak, and seemingly naive. But I have placed my hope in places where Jesus told me to look for his kingdom: with the poor, the meek, the mourning, and the merciful.

And, of course, the peacemakers.

One of my favorite writers, Heather King, has been writing some excellent posts about war. In one, she quotes Pope Francis and his recent speech about Syria: “Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence”…”War never again! Never again war!”

Those last lines rung in my ears like the song I had been searching through for days now. My spirit lifted, I felt it gasp and breathe deep at the possibilities of that sentence. War never again. Never again war. I had been daring to hope that this was a possibility, that this was indeed God’s dream for the world.

One of my other favorite writers, Shane Claiborne, talks a lot about the idea that another world is possible. This, to me, is the essence of the teachings of Christ, the words found explicitly in the manifesto that is the Sermon on the Mount. It doesn’t make sense, that the peacemakers will one day be upheld as the children of God. It doesn’t make sense to turn the cheek, to eschew the violence-for-violence rhetoric of the powerful and the scared. It doesn’t make sense until suddenly it does, when you realize that all along you have been dying for someone to tell you that it wasn’t supposed to be like this. That we can stop demanding violence and war and death and payment, and we can start living like we believe that one day there will be no war.

Pope Francis is calling for a day of fasting and prayer for the Syrian refugees on Saturday, September 7th. I will be joining–will you? Are we ready to believe that our very small prayers matter? I am.

I believe that there is a God who loves all of us, and that he does not conform to the patterns of the world.

Nor should we.




You can read my One Small Change Piece here.

Sign up for beautiful and thought-provoking prayers for Syria to be e-mailed to you once a day.

Heather King’s excellent blog.

Sweden leads the way in offering residency to all Syrian refugees.

Today is a really good day to read Jesus’ manifesto on the ways of the kingdom of God.

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6 thoughts on “One Very Small Thing, A Thousand Very Small Things

  1. Grayson Pope says:

    Sometimes the best ones are the ones that are hard to hit ‘publish’ on. Well done DL. Love the Pope Francis quote. Sometimes the smallest ministries (like the funfetti ones) make the biggest difference in the kingdom.

  2. Y says:

    Did Pope Francis admit to the wars started and supported by the RC church, or did he speak in general terms without confessing the sins of the church? Perhaps instead of a day of prayer and fasting, he should have admonished all Christians to go out into the street and find someone who is lonely or hungry and spend the day feeding their bodies and souls. We are admonished to minister to each other, not grovel to God.

    • Petro says:

      We’re also called to be charitable, loving and forgiving.

      If you were following the papacy of Francis at all, you would know that the core message of his young papacy has been getting out into the streets and doing exactly what you mention.

      At the same time, intercessory prayer—or, as you call it, groveling to God—has a long tradition in many faiths, including Catholicism, based on Matthew 7. While this might not be a part of your tradition, as the leader of a tradition that believes in the power of this type of prayer, Francis is more than obligated to direct his flock to participate in this communal activity for this troubled situation.

  3. Amy says:

    Knitting while Detroit burns. Way to sneak that in there. I keep thinking about that piece from James K.A. Smith. I just can’t totally agree with it.

    I like you.

  4. […] One Very Small Thing: A Thousand Very Small Things by D.L. Mayfield […]


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