The redwood’s immense size grabs your attention – it’s like no other tree. When you notice one of its cones on the ground, you’re struck by its size, too.
The cones are barely an inch long. From such a small, scruffy container grows the biggest of trees, stretching their limbs 300 feet into the heavens.
Shouldn’t something so stunning emerge from something equally impressive? Shouldn’t the immense tree’s starting point be supersized as well?
Nope. The tiny cone reminds us: That’s not how life works. That’s not how God works.
We are so enamored with big things – big trees, big moments, big events – that we overlook a universal truth: Everything and everyone is infinitely tiny at the core. And it’s there that everything important happens.
Life’s defining trait is smallness.
Infinitely small lines
The universe is comprised of molecules held together by divine glue. Everyone and everything exists at an atomic level. We humans begin as two cells that unite and grow into a collection of many more microscopic cells.
The blueprint of life is drawn with infinitely small lines.
Our lives follow that pattern, too. Many small, seemingly insignificant moments connect and build upon each other, forming something much larger.
We choose what we do with each moment, and our choices matter. We make things better or worse. Small acts of kindness and courage can multiply and change so much.
Each of those acts is good and worthwhile in and of itself – it brings a little more love into the world. But some of those small acts will bring changes in ways we never envisioned.
For instance, Rosa Parks never imagined that her one small act – refusing to change a bus seat – would spark a movement that would dramatically change her entire society. She just thought she was doing the right thing in the moment.
Most “big” things in human history happen this way. They’re the accumulation of many small acts and decisions that reach a tipping point.
Everything starts at the cellular level in our world, our societies and ourselves. That’s how the moral arc of the universe bends – not with one great pull, but with millions of tiny tugs that redirect it over time.
And we never know which of our small acts will have the biggest impact, just as the redwood never knows which of its countless cones will produce the next amazing tree.
Each redwood produces millions of seeds during its lifetime, spreading them throughout the forest and beyond. Most won’t take root, but enough will produce new trees to keep the forest growing and changing.
Same with us.
We never know which of our small acts will take root in someone. We never know which of our simple daily gestures will change something in a profound way.
So, we do as much as we can. Like the redwoods, we spread our love and compassion all around.
That’s how God works. As author Samir Selmanovic puts it, “God is subversively small.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu witnessed God at work during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. He watched big change come from small acts by ordinary people.
His advice: “Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good, put together, that overwhelm the world.”
The tiniest places and the humblest hearts are divine workshops. That’s how God gets things done – accomplishing grand things, little by little.