My mind wandered back to the Higgs boson (a topic that’s been with me far more than I’d expect since I am in no way, shape, or formal a science person). When she did that (my mind seems to work independently of the rest of me sometimes, so I may as well anthropomorphize her), she started noticing all kinds of other small things and sort-of things. Maybe she did this because one of yesterday’s readings (2 Corinthians 12: 7-10) was about the power of weakness, a theme that fascinates me. The idea fascinates me because it is so contrary to so many ideas that my culture promotes: “survival of the fittest,” “show no weakness,” “might makes right,” “show no mercy,” just to name a few. My culture is not the only one that idolizes strength in the sense of brute force. Many, too many, cultures do this. I¸ however, believe in the power of small things and sort-of things, things that may be for good or for bad, things that ask us to pay attention, but may or may not be forceful in doing so. You be the judge.
I know I will leave words unwritten. I know I will not string all words together with logic. I do both with intention. We’ll see how this goes.
The small things and sort-of things my mind encountered in her wanderings were the Higgs boson, babies, flowers, and germs.
A moment in time.
Each is small. Each is powerful, sometimes powerful enough to change the course of a life, the course of many lives. Sometimes powerful enough to end a life, many lives.
The Higgs boson. A particle small beyond my comprehension, maybe why I’m here today. You, too. The grass outside. The mosquitoes buzzing around in the humid air. The computer or phone you’re using to read this. The chair you’re sitting on. All of us. Created from a spectacular interaction between subatomic particles.
A baby. Small and weak, utterly helpless. Her helplessness brings out the best in us. His needs slow us down, forcing us to take time to nurture him. The warmth of her body as she sleeps on our shoulder tells us that nothing else in the world is as important as this sweet girl. His first smile elicits our own laughter and continues to provide joy long after his smile goes away.
Flowers. Splashes of color, concentrated across fields or singular in appearance. Signs of spring, new life, new hope. Love, celebration, commemoration, peace.
Germs. Can stop us for a day, a week, a month. Can end a life. We don’t appreciate them, I certainly don’t. Maybe there are lessons to be learned from these things that invade our bodies: Take better care, eat better, sleep more, exercise. Slow down. Or maybe: Appreciate the moments of health, joy, life that you have. They are fleeting. It shouldn’t take a bad spell to remind us of all these fundamentals, but sometimes it does.
A seed. Useless in a package. Life-producing in soil. Soil and seed in concert with each other until a new existence emerges. A flower. A bush. A tree. Creation unceasing.
A song played. Sounds and words coming together to create a melody, a memory, relief, understanding, release. Heard differently each time from every ear. Brief in its temporal existence. Eternal as it lives in the soul.
A word. The mere representation of an idea or thing. Not mere. Begets animosity or generosity. Hurts or heals. Divides or unites.
A bullet. To bring food to the table, to protect (so they say), to kill, for sport, sometimes all at once. Nourishment. Confusion. Sorrow. Danger. Death.
A moment in time. Eyes meeting. Crash. “I do.” Opening a door. Seeing what we’re not meant to see. “I won’t.” Closing a door. Nothing is ever the same. “Guilty.” Everything makes sense now. New answers. “I will.” Fresh possibilities.
Small things and sort-of things.