I spent most of the day yesterday thinking that I'd go home and make some elaborate dinner in his honor. He was, after all, the person who taught me to love to cook. He paid for a significant chunk of his education by working at a seafood restaurant in Massachusetts. So, it felt like a good idea to plan to go home and cook some seafood. I have such fond memories of cooking fish, cleaning shellfish, and breading scallops. Breading scallops was actually my favorite - I thought it was so funny how your fingers ultimately get caked in egg, flour, and bread crumbs. It was such a mess - I loved it. So, while I'm trying to not eat so many fried things these days, I thought I'd go home and cook some seafood in his memory. But by the time I got home, I was too tired - and it was too late.
So at my wife's request, I made us both a PB&J. And as I was making them, I started to cry, because I was being so careful to spread the peanut butter and jelly all the way to the edges of the bread. To get the balance right. And I realized suddenly that he taught me that, too. He used to get up every morning and make the PB&J that would go in my lunchbox. And he was careful to spread the good stuff all the way out to the edges of the bread - so you got some of both in every bite. It wasn't the fancy dinner I had imagined - but it was the comfort that I needed. The assurance that memory lasts a long time - and that someone can come to us across the distance even when we're not expecting it.
Our life with God is rather like this, too. We often think that we need to do the big fancy thing. In order to serve, or to remember, or to practice our prayer life well, we think we have to go away on retreat. Or set up an elaborate schedule. Or make some kind of visible, triumphant difference in the world around us. Instead, it's usually the small things that make the biggest difference, the small thing that give the greatest comfort. The tiny ways that we're thoughtful - like spreading the PB&J out to the edge of the bread - the tiny ways that we serve that make the biggest difference in someone else's life.
This past week, our church Food Pantry distributed food again, like we do on the third Saturday of every month. As has become our custom, a group of church members gathered to serve a hot breakfast to our guests. A project that has started small has made significant changes in the life of our community. Last week, a local donut shop donated to our breakfast - which made the kids who came so happy. They went running home with donuts to spare. And the project continues to grow. Someone who has done some work for us in our building heard about what we do - and she now secures bread for us to give away each month. And so on and so on. Small faithfulness has grown into something truly lovely - something truly beautiful. As neighbors sit and eat, children laugh and play, and a community comes together.
Sometimes, it's the small, simple comforts - the moments we share with God - the little acts of kindness that make the greatest difference. Sometimes we remember in small but meaningful ways. Sometimes from the smallest of broken hearts comes the greatest of joy.
How can you love in small ways today? How can you remember those who you love but see no longer - through small acts of remembrance and small acts of service? How can you make a big difference today by giving only a small about of comfort?