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Live Life in the Details…

I park my van in a drift of snow, opening the door before realizing that the walkway has not been shoveled. I retrieve my bundle from the seat beside me and head back out. This time, I take the road. I turn and walk up the ramp and push open the door. The sign stuck on the window glass says, “Please push shut on your way out.” I make sure to turn and secure the door.
Warm air invites me in. I place my letters on the counter and hear her coming around the corner. We greet each other with a smile, and I hand her the thick packet of Christmas cards I have brought in to mail. I am missing an address for one envelope which she assures me I can phone in from school tomorrow. Gotta love country mail service.
And while we chat about this and that, I finish addressing cards and re-checking things before I hand them off and pay my fees. And as I do, the talk turns to more serious matters. Of life. And of death. Grave, sad matters that are most pressing in light of yesterday. But we also talk of grace and kindness. Of making each moment really count because one just doesn’t know if there will truly be another day. Another moment.
And I can see on her face that today’s been a hard one. That the stress is getting to her. That sometimes a body just needs a word of encouragement. That kindness is what she needs the most. And that’s when she says to me that she wonders if she’s really making a difference. There is so much to be done and she’s just one person. And people are stressed- there are so many things gone wrong. How can she make any impact?
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Earlier. I am in the office photocopying papers. That is, until I run out of standard white. I open three cupboard doors and finding there is none to be found, I call out to Whomever is around- The Powers That Be, to alert them that there seems to be no paper. And that drew enough attention to alert another ‘her’ to come over and chat with me about the paper- until chatter and friendly banter turns to other, more meaningful subjects. Subjects like gifts and giving and people we love and why we do. And I tell her that she means an awful lot to me, as I know she does to many, many other people. After which she says to me that she really wonders sometimes if she’s really making any difference. And that’s when her voice trails off. And I can hardly believe that someone in her position could ever underestimate the impact they make on the lives around them. Because I know how important her presence is in my life.
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Later. I am cleaning up the house after the kiddos have gone to bed, putting away The Remains of the Day. Things which have gone haywire and topsy-turvy. Returning all that stuff to its rightful spot. And as I do, I chat with yet another ‘her’ on the phone, shooting the breeze. Filling her in on the day, what I’ve been up to and all that jazz. We talk about everyday miracles. Talk about people who do great and wonderful things at Christmastime- like paying Other’s outstanding bills for them and leaving anonymous gift packages on doorsteps to be discovered by un-expectant receivers. And she says to me, “All I have to give is cookies.’ Which I know is just another way of saying, “I don’t really think giving cookies makes much of a difference.”
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And this time, I can’t believe that it has been three times today that I have heard this same phrase coming from the hearts and souls of three different women- women who are strong and influential. Women who truly do make a difference in the lives of those around them. And all these- women whom I look up to and admire very much.

And I really can’t help but think that it is high time I started to praise the everyday people in my life. The ones who are steady and true. The ones who go about their days without a whole lot of fanfare and notice. Who don’t demand attention for things they do- who don’t expect a lot of praise. People who give from the heart expecting little in return. For sometimes these people forget that they are the backbone of our little world- they are the heart. That they matter.

And these special ones need to hear it just as much as anyone else does: that smiles are important. That listening ears count for a lot. That a dozen cookies given out of a heart of love- freely and generously offered- are just as meaningful as a bucket full of cold, hard cash. Because we give out of hearts of love, and it’s the gifts of the heart that count the most.

Sometimes we forget that a Body can make a difference just by being kind. That compassion is a window on the soul and that love shines brightest through the cracks. And sometimes it’s the common, everyday folk that need to hear it first. That need to hear it anyway. Those ones- the people whom we notice doing the little things- they’re the ones that need to hear our words of encouragement. Our words of affirmation. And they’re the ones who need to hear that their lives are truly making a difference to the people around them- that the little unnoticed details are important and necessary. Are so worth it.

To you: quiet, unnoticed Ones who truly make a difference in the lives of those around you- weaving your magic in your own special way. Doing what comes natural. Just being yourselves. To you, I give you my thanks— thank you all for making me stop and notice how important life is when lived in the details.

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