Sometimes when we lose perspective, we are encouraged by friends and family to look at the “big picture”. And of course there are times when we really need to “zoom out” and see that the problems we are having — problems that appear to be so enormous and threatening — are in the larger scheme of things, not such a big deal after all.
But there are other times when the big picture itself seems overwhelming. The Gulf Oil Spill. Genocide in Sudan. War throughout the world. Poverty. Hunger. Problems so large, that no matter how far we pull back, they still seem enormous. When we try to put these things into perspective we feel, by comparison, small, ineffectual, powerless.
What do we do when the big picture looms so large, that we feel we will be swallowed up by it?
Yes, look at the small stuff. The stuff that seems so insignificant that we hardly see it when it is right in front of our eyes: the gift of our breath, the colors arrayed before our eyes every day, the taste of a crisp apple. The ability to smile. To laugh. The feeling of a small child’s hand in ours. The loving and encouraging words of an elder. The solidity of the ground under our feet.
These small gifts are like refreshment. Small treats that we can savor throughout our day. And they are no less real than oil spills and wars. They are like the microscopic cells in our bodies. So small and so ingenious in their daily work of sustaining us, that we forget they are there, faithfully holding us together. Doing the work of healing us when we are hurt. Returning us to wholeness.
We need to be realistic. If we choose to ignore the big picture, it will be at our own risk and to our own detriment. We are part of the big picture. And we must never forget that it will not change unless we are able to look at it. But we need courage to do that. We need strength. Reality has many dimensions. And there is wonderment in the small, the quiet, the persevering and faithful elements of life. We need to be in touch with the wonder of life to find that courage and strength.
So zoom in. Closer and closer to the heart of life. And you will find the strength and the courage to see the whole picture, of which you are a miraculous, powerful part.