A Day of Small Things.

By: Jen Shoop
"Who dares despise the day of small things?"

On the way to a birthday party last weekend, my son’s chatter filled the car, inexhaustible. A new “tell” of his, this chattiness: an augury of excitement. It was the same the morning of his “visit day” at his new school, when Mr. Magpie and I took him out for breakfast before walking him into the red brick building to meet his teachers and classmates, his tiny body swinging between us (“one, two, threeee!”). That morning, his prattle had become a fourth companion, filling every void and pause in conversation, and overwriting most everything else, too. Observations and memories tumbled out of him, wedging their way around us.

The insight tugs at my heartstrings, reminding me that perhaps I haven’t been as dutiful as I could have been about finding occasions in which he plays the lead character rather than the sidekick to his opinionated, older sister. He finds a tiny stream of attention and basks in it, a cat lolling in the sunshine.

Still, I strained to keep my focus from wandering as he burbled about Halloween costumes, “that red car,” why the party’s location had been moved and where it had been moved, why his friend did not go to our Church. Suddenly: “that’s where God is, in the colored window.” I peered at him in the rear view mirror. “Right, mama?” I paused. Sometimes he will steamroll right along if not answered immediately, and I wasn’t sure I had the stamina to engage in theology at 1:45 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, especially as I inwardly prepared myself for the throttling experience of supervising a young child at a birthday party while engaging in splintered, desultory conversation with other parents.

“Right, mama?” he persisted. “God lives in the colored windows at Church?” I could see in this language a sweet perversion, or adaptation, of something he might have learned at school about stained glass. Perhaps a kindly teacher or priest talking about its metaphor.

“Well, yes,” I said. “But God is everywhere, too.” He thought for a moment, and then we walked briskly in the direction I’d anticipated and loosely hoped to avoid, in which he asked whether God was in his seat, the car, the grass, the street light, the tree, the neighbor’s dog, Spider-Man, his pinky finger.

“But he’s all broken up?” He concluded, mystified. I long ago decided that I would participate in this kind of wonder at the mysteries of faith when my children presented them rather than strain to explain something I myself struggle to understand.

“Yes, He’s everywhere, and in everything. It’s a mystery we can’t fully understand. But He is there.”

“Ohhh,” he nodded. “God is magic.”

And I thought — that’s not a bad landing place for a four year old’s theology.

And I also thought, with some small inward regret, how ill-conceived it had been of me to temporarily hope to dodge this conversation, how wrong it was to have considered his inquisition ill-suited to the time, to the venue. Revelation operates according to its own timetable. It is rarely opportune. Sometimes our most profound insights arrive when we least expect them. Who was I to divert my son’s?

I was reminded, too, all of the sudden, of a quote from Zechariah I’d displaced for years:

“Who dares despise the day of small things?”

He is talking about the re-building of a temple, how paltry the first stones must have looked when laid.

And I thought how all my days are filled with small things. The tiny feet padding around outside my door in the morning, the filling of the coffee mug, the packing of the lunches, the “I love you!” thrown out the car door at drop-off. And yet they eventually stack up to the great things: family, comfort, the rhythmic warmth of domesticity.

My son’s recitative about God in the trees, and in the dog next door, and in the fabric of his carseat suddenly felt percipient, well-shaped.

So, yes —

Here I am, ready to praise this day of small things.


+The first job each morning.

+I do not consider myself great at prayer. Your comments on this post were incredible.

+Imprints of a new (suburban) lifestyle.

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Shopping Break.

+J. Crew’s new arrivals are incredible. I think I’m going to order these boots in the black and these incredible jeans. Also eyeing this ruffle-collar cardi (so many good colors!) and this sherpa jacket.

+I’m overdue for an Honest Beauty Review installment (some recent ones here), but wanted to say I am really liking this UBeauty Lip Plasma so many of you have raved about. I will write a full review soon. My first reaction was — “$68 for a lip gloss?” — but I have to say that the colors are gorgeous and, more importantly, it somehow plumps/fills lips in a way I’ve never experienced with any other lip product. I haven’t ever used a dedicated “lip plumper” so candidly don’t have great points of comparison as to how this stacks up against other products in that category, but I will say I love the results this one achieves. The brand sent me a few to test. I really love the Rose color, which was just restocked, along with a handful of new colors, too!

+I ordered a couple of long-sleeved, white base layers for fall/winter, and will report back with thoughts. I’m really excited about this pointelle one from Leset! More sizes here.

+Ordered myself some blue light glasses (do they work?!) to help with my long days staring at the screen. These ones are specifically designated for small faces like mine!

+Adorable cableknit sweater for a little love — under $25.

+Four very random, unexciting, but important buys for my daughter: this clip-on reading light (she loves to read in bed, and I love anything I can do to support her reading habit!), a rec from a Magpie reader!; classic Adidas slides for before/after cleats on soccer Saturdays; a standard-issue Gatorade squirt bottle that she begged me for (!!! — I guess all her classmates have them? Man, I feel like I suddenly leveled up to grade school mom status); and more of these white crew socks for school. Those socks are really well-made — soft, stretchy — and much better than whatever I bought her last year, which always felt sort of like torture to get on her feet.

+These velvet ballerinas…! Under $75 and so fun for holiday!

+Love this blue teddy-style fleece pullover.

+These throwback-style NBs are having a moment. Like the cranberry and forest green color options.

+Very tempted by this chartreuse-hued Galvan dress, 50% off. I think I first saw it on Julia Berolzheimer last year and it’s been on my mind since…

+For your little hockey player.

+How fun are these quatrefoil-shaped velvet pillows?!

+Menswear-inspired vest tops have been majorly trending this season. The editor’s pick seems to be the gorgeously tailored one from Attersee, but I love this one from Rag and Bone, and J. Crew covers the look for less.

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2 thoughts on “A Day of Small Things.

  1. Well, here I am weeping on a Saturday morning!!

    I’m already spending a lot of time thinking about the formation of my children’s face, and how to pass on the mundanity and the mystery that is my Catholic faith. For me, reading Henri Nouwen always takes me there. Care tasks, the wiping of a child’s body or a beloved elder’s, are one of the best, simplest, most unsung things we can do. And our intention and our effort matter. Trying to remind myself to seek the everyday glories.

    1. This is so beautiful, Kelly. Thank you for putting it this way — the unseen, untrumpeted, small, unglamorous ways we minister to the people we love. So beautiful. Thank you!


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