Sunday, April 9, 2017

Little Things Can Be Really Big

Kids of all ages are fascinated by miniatures. Little girls love to move furniture around in doll-houses. Many young men have spent hours designing and building an electric train layout, then watching the scale model engine pull its cars around and around, through tunnels and over trestles. The scenery around the tracks can be simple or complicated, with trees, buildings, even small people involved in the tableaux.
A Hot Springs man has taken this idea to the extreme, and his labor of love, appropriately called Tiny Town, has been a popular attraction for generations. It’s all in the details, and we are so happy that he cared so much about every little piece of it.
Another location in the area, Garvan Woodland Gardens, is famous for the large displays of flowers and native plants in every season, as well as a spectacular lighting display at Christmas time. But, one of our favorite areas in the garden features a rustic creation that is constantly evolving. The Fairy Garden is constructed with tiny castoffs and natural material, and prompts dreams of magical creatures and their adventures. We can’t help but wonder what happens when all of the guests are gone, and the little inhabitants come out to play. I am noticing more and more pictures on social media of home-made fairy gardens, and there are even special items being sold in the hobby and gardening stores that folks can use to customize their own little fantasylands.
As a girl, I read a series of books by Mary Norton called The Borrowers. This fantasy centered around a family of tiny people who lived underneath the floor of a house. All of the lost items of the house became furniture and tools for the Borrowers. Postage Stamps became colorful artwork for their walls. Spools of thread were tables and chairs. The adventures began when the some of the younger family members crossed into the world of the larger humans. This fueled my imagination in a huge way, and instigated my love for teeny, tiny details.
The whole idea of “less is more” translates to other areas of our lives as well.  New generations of young couples and parents are starting to enjoy the old principles of fellowship, once again appreciating simple gatherings in homes, as opposed to fancy and expensive events in larger venues.
Many churches have moved from large evening worship services held in the sanctuary that holds the whole Sunday morning congregation to small groups that meet in members’ houses. This enables real visiting and develops meaningful friendships. A popular women’s ministry called Heartfelt Friends refers to this phenomenon as “moving past the foyer faces.”
Our group has been meeting monthly since early autumn, and five “Moms” have enjoyed pampering their seven younger “sisters” by paying attention to the smallest details. Cloth napkins, napkin rings, candle holders and floral centerpieces turn a simple meal into a special event. There is not a big expense involved, as the hostesses each bring a dish, and decorative items they have acquired over years of entertaining. Some of the dishes and table decorations have their own stories and memories of past family dinners with well-loved relatives. With so much emphasis on the smallest things, these dinners are simply elegant.
As we have repeated this process, we have enjoyed bringing special gifts that will help the topics of our evening’s bible study to stay with our young ladies for a long time. At our last get-together, we learned about what was most important to our new friends.

The dinner and study had carried on longer than usual, so our leader was hurrying a little to wrap up since all of us had activities planned for early the next day. As we passed out the simple gifts and snapped pictures, the young ladies began mentioning people in their lives who needed special attention and prayers due to illnesses and other difficulties. We had honestly considered skipping the usual closing prayer in favor of heading to our respective homes. But, it was obvious that ending our gathering without that ceremony was not going to happen. Luckily, someone had started writing down the requests, and we joined hands and prayed together, relishing the love that filled the room. We could have skipped dessert, skipped the gifts we handed out, but the simplest thing, praying together, had turned out to be the most important.
Is bigger really better?  Maybe sometimes. But often, in our day to day lives, taking time to enjoy the simplest pleasures, the smallest details can be very enjoyable. This month, take a look around. Inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places. Often, it’s the little things that mean the most.

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