THE SNOWFLAKE METHOD
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” -
Whenever I get discouraged about the world...you know, little things, like hunger, and homelessness, and unclean water to drink, and no medicine for children and adults who need it...little things like that discourage me. So...whenever I get discouraged, I try to remember what Margaret Mead wrote.
I'll tell you a secret: there are hundreds and thousands of "small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens" out there, changing the world every day.
What we have to remember is that change takes time. Change can be very, very small, so minute it's hard to see or hear. Change can be far away, or as close as your neighbor.
Years ago a church choir I directed sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth," and the line that meant so much to us was this: "And let it begin with me."
Change is like that. It begins with me. With you. With our neighbor across the road or down the street. With people we don't know, will never meet, but who have the same desire to make the world a better place.
This fall a group of women at my church devoted several Friday mornings to sewing lap quilts. Four of the quilts will soon be delivered, by the rector and any of the folks who visit the shut-ins, to those who will receive the little covers.
The whole project was about abundance and caring...fabrics stored in a closet (who knows how long ago?) were found, washed, sorted, pressed, and stitched together. Coordinating fabrics were found to finish the center of the quilts. Border fabrics and backings (most were flannel) were donated.
The women who did the washing, pressing, and sewing used time they could have been making gifts for their family members. Or shopping. Or drinking coffee with friends. Or sleeping. Four recipients of the little quilts will be warm and comfortable because of a sacrificial gift.
This is a small example of a committed group of caring folks making a difference.
So, we call this the season of giving.
My church has a food bank. It opens for two and one-half hours, Wednesdays and Fridays. The only exceptions to the Wed./Fri. schedule are holidays. Only a handful of people donate their time to operate the food bank; but they are committed to helping folks who don't have enough food to feed their families, or themselves. They show up every week to enroll new folks in the bank or help regulars choose among the foods, some of which are donated by church members.
Our choir is small in number, but big in commitment. They help lead worship every Sunday and other special times, such as Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Christmas Eve. They sing an anthem as an Offertory. They sing "with one voice" and everyone is gifted, singer and listener alike.
Some groups are practically invisible and inaudible. The altar guild is like that--they come during the week to prepare for Sunday, or a special service; they stay after the service is over to put away and rearrange and check things out. The only way I know they're busy as bees is last summer when I played the organ and saw them doing their thing.
I call this the Snowflake Method--if you live where it snows in winter (or other seasons as well!) you'll know how snowflakes, almost unremarkable as to size, can add up, and up, and up! We see photos on the news about the effects on travel, whole sections of the country without power, towns seemingly buried in snow. All our efforts for change are like those snowflakes. They add up, even when we can't see the accumulation on the news at six.
The key word in all this is committed. The group may be small, but when each member has dedicated time and talents--no matter how small--to a project, big things can happen. I've seen it with my own eyes. And, folks, it's awesome!