Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Big things

It is interesting to note that two groups formed from the Civil War, the U.S. Sanitary Commission and the Red Cross, were started by women; starting small, looking to make a change:

When the fall of Fort Sumter made war inevitable, a wave of enthusiasm swept over the country, North and South. As always happens in such crises, the women looked about them for something they might do. The first soldiers who went to the front were furnished with every possible bit of equipment which feminine brains could devise. In every village the women met to " sew for the soldiers."
Out of this feeling that there must be something which women could do, even if they could not fight, grew in the North the Sanitary Commission. Its origin may be traced to a meeting of women held in New York, April 25, 1861. Out of this grew the Women's Central Association of Relief. (Which in turn became the U.S. Sanitary Commission) More

In fact, Clara Barton, the founder of Red Cross, " learned that many of the wounded from First Bull Run had suffered, not from want of attention but from need of medical supplies, she advertised for donations in the Worcester, Mass., Spy and began an independent organization to distribute goods. The relief operation was successful, and the following year U.S. Surgeon General William A. Hammond granted her a general pass to travel with army ambulances 'for the purpose of distributing comforts for the sick and wounded, and nursing them' " (From here. )

My point in all this is that change starts small. If there is a particular change you would like to see happen in your life, then it is important to realize that baby steps must be taken to achieve it. I have to remind myself this all the time! Most change happens on a smaller level, rather than a large level. A lot of times what is happening "underneath" cannot be seen, yet there is growth. The roots of a tree are underneath the ground, being fed, growing, causing growth. There is the need for slow and unseen growth in all living things. It is a "spiritual law".

Women's work has always been dismissed--the work of remembering the details, noticing the emotional nuances, keeping the peace, keeping food in the fridge and clothes laundered. Yet these seemingly mundane affairs form the basis of healthy community life. Women's ways weave the substance of community ties. We need to value these sensibilities and move them into public life. ~Unknown

Just think: a woman's deepest desires, most often instigated because of her family or because of her natural nurturing role, such as in the case of Clara Barton and the women who started the U.S. Sanitary Commmission, can have a profound effect on community and change. It goes without saying that these "sensibilites" should and could have an effect, slowly and on a small scale, on our communites, in our world.

So, where do you start? What can you do? Where can you start small, using your God-given gifts as a woman to make a change--in your own family, yes. With the lonely mom who needs a meal or a friend? Yes. In your small community, yes. Small things strung together will make big things.

More on a "Smaller scale" read here.


Kristi said...

This post was so encouraging to me!!! So often I feel unappreciated (and that is sin in itself), but God always reminds me that I am doing the small things, and he will give me "charge over greater things" if I am faithful. Thanks for the challenge to keep this in perspective.

L.L. Barkat said...

I like that last expression, about big things being made of small things strung together. Think of how our children grow, day after day of one meal after another, one loving touch and instruction after another...

Holly said...

Ah, you are SUCH a good writer, such a good encouragement.

Keep doin' the little things. Keep being faithful in even the small...especially the small.

We all need these reminders...especially me! :)

dorothy said...

This post beautifully puts to words my very thoughts this week. Thanks for the encouragement through your confirmation of what I've been ruminating on. :)

Anonymous said...

Andrea -- Well said, and great examples. I took up LL's challenge as well. Interesting to think about small things being so productive because of their smallness.

Christine said...

I can start small by visiting people who need a friend- those in nursing homes, brand new moms, church members who've been in the hospital. Thanks for motivating me!!

bluemountainmama said...

wonderful post, andrea! i had to really adjust my mindset when i went from working at salem to staying home with my infant son...trying to figure out "what can i do to change the world now?" we think it has to be something grand.....but you hit the nail on the head about starting small. and it is usually men in high positions getting the glory...but it's the people behind the scenes that are usually the ones making it all come together. the mention of clara barton brought back a pleasant memory of one of my former students...she was a little girl from inner city baltimore and she dressed up as clara and did a report on her when we were studying women in history.

Elise said...

Your profundity amazes me - small things strung together will make big things. I love how simple and do-able that is!
What a great post - I second Holly - superb writing!

Carmi said...

A journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step. These words have echoed in my ears for most of my life, encouraging me to initiate the process even when the journey ahead seems daunting.

But bit by bit, we can make it happen. Thanks for the aptly written reminder.

You have a wonderfully inspirational blog.