The small picture


The small picture

"What I remember most is a small, yellow butterfly in front of me."

Forgive me, for we were at the Biltmore Mansion the other day. Near Asheville, N.C., it is the largest home in North America, and it was gorgeous and overwhelming, with all of the layers of history and art and architecture, and even though I am on vacation, it got me thinking about "mission" and "vision" and "purpose," big words that help churches and individuals think about where they are going and how they are going to get there. You know: "The Big Picture."

George Vanderbilt had a vision, or a mission or both, and it was to build this great and beautiful house, where many people came and stayed and were entertained. The house had its own bowling alley and swimming pool, a gymnasium and a music room and a library. The garden was designed by the same person who designed Central Park.

As for me, what I remember most is walking across the lawn on the way back to the parking lot and seeing a small, yellow butterfly fly in front of me.

But it made me think, again, about the important and vexing question: What is my mission? Do I have a vision for my life? And what about my congregation? What is the mission of my congregation?

When I was a little girl, I had a simple mission in life, and it was to write stories. I thought I would be an author. I didn't have any idea what I would write about, but I thought I would tell stories of some sort or another.

Then I knew I was going to become a pastor, which also involves telling stories and helping other people tell stories, as well as holding hands and breaking bread and pouring water. Being a pastor involves holding up mirrors to people's pain and beauty and nudging them forward to do things they never thought they could do. And leading -- but where? I can't seem to get my brain around what is called "The Big Picture": All I can see are a number of small pictures of daily faithfulness, on the way to the reign of justice and mercy that only God can bring.

A woman from my congregation tutors all of the immigrant children in her apartment building. A young man comforts his confirmation guide, who is grieving. A confirmation guide is vulnerable enough to share her grief with her students. A young mother and her children bring communion to a woman who is shut-in. They visit every month. A 2-year-old girl shares the "peace" with as many people as possible during Sunday worship. A small, yellow butterfly flies across a great garden.

The small pictures: I don't want you to miss them, because if you do, you might also miss the Son Rising every single day.

I still don't know what my mission is, but I pray that God will grant me grace to see my own small, yellow butterfly and the courage to follow.


Originally posted Oct. 13, 2012, at faith in community. Republished with permission of the author. Find a link to Diane Roth’s blog faith in community at Lutheran Blogs.

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