Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The little things are really the great things...

This lovely, autumn-time, native aster is blooming now in Pennsylvania. Here it grows happily along the edge of the woods in dappled light. It is called Aster Cordifolius or Blue Wood Aster. The thin stems send up big, long-lasting clouds of delicate, powder blue flowers. Each flower is about the size of a baby aspirin. The clusters sway or shake gently when there's a breeze.

In his essay, Wild Fruits, Henry David Thoreau quotes the nature-philosopher Pliny (though the quote isn't verified anywhere) "In minimus Natura praestat" - Nature excels in the least things. Aster Cordifolius affirms Pliny's claim.

And a Jesuit priest-author writes, "Christians live under the sign of the diminutive." Indeed, all throughout the Gospels, Jesus, referencing the small and least things, teaches us about the divine things that matter most. 

  • the tiny mustard seed that becomes a great bush
  • the bit of yeast that leavens the whole dough
  • the widow's coin of least value worth more than grandiose gifts
  • a few loaves and some dried fish to feed thousands
  • the little pearl bought by selling everything
  • small children gathered by Jesus to teach us how to receive God's mercy
  • the smallest of birds carefully observed by God
  • the tiny child of insignificant Bethlehem, who is God with us.

We might look and listen for small and least today. God is near.
  • In the morning as the leaves still drip with rain from last night's storm.
  • A young mother in the park, feeding her toddler who sits in the stroller.
  • The sales person so genuinely helpful.
  • There are tropical plants and even fish in the islands throughout the mall.
  • A shade of green today that I'd never seen before.
  • The surprise of a polite driver who knew what the YIELD sign means.
  • I heard church bells today...
  • and wispy clouds against a blue, blue sky.
  • A last robin hanging around made me think of spring for a moment.
  • The tender story of an old black and white film.
  • Out of season, the Magnolia has sent out two waxy, deep pink flowers.
  • The radio song that brought back a lovely memory.
  • How delightful - the first apples of autumn.
  • ( Fill in the blanks)


  1. God has given us all these little gifts. But that we can see them and feel grateful is the greatest gift of all. Amen

  2. This is beautiful. I have filled in the blanks already and at the top of my list is: The priest who reminds me that God loves us, and shows us even in the smallest of ways.

    1. Yeah, I'm a little priest, on the lowest rung of the clerical ladder. And that is soooooo okay. I meet the best people there.

    2. You may be low on the clerical ladder Father, but you are held in the highest esteem here in my home, even if we have never met in person.

    3. That's right, we've never met, but I know your name and am glad for the fellowship we share here. Bless your family and "Keep the faith," my Irish father used to say.

  3. I have one! It's pushing your 6 year old granddaughter on a park swing as she giggles and cries out, "Higher, HIGHER Grandma! I want my feet to touch the clouds!!"

  4. I love magical thinking: "I want my feet to touch the clouds."

  5. Taking care of yourself is one of the best selfish things you can do.

  6. Mind your weight, be exercised, avoid addictions, read, maintain the important relationships, recognize and nourish your spiritual dimension, eat well, practice charity....

  7. I read this and thought of this kindness from which I benefited today. When someone lets you ahead of them in line at the grocery store because they have a cart full and you have five items. A small gesture of neighborliness that made my day.