I was staying in a cottage near an ocean beach to do some writing. A storm had raged all day - rain pouring, wind howling, surf pounding.
By late afternoon there was a clearing. The rain stopped, the wind dropped to a brisk sea breeze, and sunlight started breaking through. With camera bag on shoulder, I went for a walk.
The beach was a mess, with debris washed ashore, and especially with spume - high ridges of dirty brown foam left behind as each wave receded. No photo possibilities there, I thought. The surf was still churning angrily, but patches of sunshine sparkled on the waves and fringed the clouds with light. The obvious photographic opportunity would be wide-angle sea views that caught patterns of light and shade.
Then, while preparing the camera for these shots, I glanced down at my feet surrounded by that dirty brown foam. And what a transformation! A shaft of sunlight had turned the foam into a veritable jewel box, each of the myriad bubbles, both small and large, reflecting a full range of shimmering rainbow hues. Quickly I changed lenses and squatted down to get close-up shots of this newly discovered beauty. Yes, I also took some wide-angle views of sea and sky. But what lessons this experience taught me! What I'd previously written off as worthless and ugly held within itself this unexpected beauty.
Are we sometimes so caught up with the big picture that we overlook the significant details right at hand? Or vice versa, are we so caught up with detail that we lose sight of the broad picture? Both the big and little are important. We cannot afford to overlook either.
The Monitor's founder described true creation as consisting "of the unfolding of spiritual ideas and their identities," and explained further that "these ideas range from the infinitesimal to infinity" (Mary Baker Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pgs. 502-503). And elsewhere in the same book, using Mind as a name for God, she observed, "The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal" (Pg. 70).
What about us? Do we sometimes feel too small or insignificant - like a clump of foam blown around on the beach - to have any impact on world crises, or on national, community, governmental, or environmental problems? What can just one person do?
Sensing this inadequacy that many of us may feel, Mrs. Eddy quoted this:
What if the little rain should say,
"So small a drop as I
Can ne'er refresh a drooping earth,
I'll tarry in the sky."
And then she described the wholeness of each individual spiritual identity ("Pulpit and Press," Pg. 4). This is the identity of each of us as a full representation of the creative Principle of the universe, God. As a sunbeam can't be separated from the sun, not one of us can be separated from God, our true source. Each is significant, complete.
The passage continues, "You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle. A dewdrop reflects the sun. Each of Christ's little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer's declaration true, that 'one on God's side is a majority.' A single drop of water may help to hide the stars, or crown the tree with blossoms." (A duodecillion in the American numerical system is one followed by 39 zeros; in the British it is one followed by 72 zeros; either way, it's BIG!)
From this spiritual viewpoint, each of us is special, needed, and has a God-given place and purpose, despite outward appearances to the contrary. As we begin to identify ourselves and everyone else in this light, it becomes a prayer - one that not only brings the operation of God's law of good into our own lives but also blesses all those our thoughts include.
We can, like the "single drop of water," help in solving an international crisis, or settle a small domestic dispute. We can no longer think of ourselves, or anyone else, as insignificant, a clump of foam on the beach. Rather, we'll look closer and find the rainbow-hued jewel of individual worth.