St. Anthony Messenger

April 2014

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A p r i l 2 0 1 4 ❘ 5 7 F r a n c i s c a n M e d i a . o r g B y the end of April, we've finished much of the spring planting on our Indiana farm. The young seedlings look puny and fragile amid the open expanses of our gardens and fields. But at the height of the growing season, these tiny plants will take over and transform the land- scape into an overgrown jungle. Jesus also had faith in small things: the mustard seed, the children he blessed and embraced, even his little band of ragtag dis- ciples. He was unimpressed with influential political and religious leaders of his day. He turned away from the expansive kingdom with which Satan tempted him in the desert, and he was content to confine his ministry to a small corner of a provincial backwater in the Roman Empire. Small is the rule in the world of nature, too. We may be impressed by large, magnifi- cent creatures such as lions, elephants, and sperm whales—or dinosaurs and woolly mammoths from bygone eras—but the health, resilience, and durability of eco- systems always rests on the small fry. Come what may, insects and bacteria will likely outlast us all. Several decades ago, the Catholic econo- mist E. F. Schumacher made famous the phrase "small is beautiful," arguing that a more human-scaled economy would make for more fulfill- ing social relationships and less environmental destruc- tion. In our era of "supersize me" and behemoth global corporations, however, it's very easy to put our faith in the gospel of Bigger Is Better. Worshiping in a megachurch of metrics—our number of Facebook likes and Twitter followers, or our personal wealth—makes it easy to despair when our lives (inevitably) don't quite mea- sure up. We may, to para- phrase philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke, make the mistake of doing nothing because we can do only a little. Most of us, though, will only be able to do a little: our lives won't play out on the grand stage; our sphere of influence will seem relatively small. Jesus' good news—preached by, among others, St. Thérèse of Lisieux (the "Little Flower") and the humble St. Francis—is that God's para- doxical power actually seems to work best through the beauty of small things. So what- ever change you might want to see in the world or in your own life, don't be afraid to start (and even finish) small. You're in great company. Kyle Kramer, an organic farmer, is author of A Time to Plant: Life Lessons in Work, Prayer, and Dirt (Sorin Books). A A T H O M E O N E A R T H ❘ B Y K Y L E K R A M E R Small Is Beautiful Small is the rule in nature. Start with a little and you'll achieve the change you desire. © ELENA ELISSEEVA/DREAMSTIME © AFISPHOTO/PHOTOXPRESS Click here for more ways to connect with nature. Digital Extras Starting Small 1 Try to fast from digital social media for one day a week. Two days? 2 Show your support for a small, local business by patronizing it regularly. 3 Look up subsidiarity. Can you recognize examples of it in your own life?

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