One of my favorite memories of my mom is a discovery I made while visiting her in her home outside of Pittsburgh a few years after she married my stepfather. It was early spring, that time in March when crocuses peak out of the ground to be welcomed by a dusting of snow. After the five-hour drive to her house, I was relieved to pull into the driveway and get out of the car.
This house and yard were still strange to me, since Mom, after being widowed for 6 years had remarried and moved into her new husband’s home the previous fall. As I surveyed the wooded lot, driveway, and breezeway between the garage and house, I noticed little piles of what looked like fluff scattered on the ground.
When I got inside, I asked Mom what the fluffy stuff in the yard was. Back in her old home near Harrisburg, Mom always had birdfeeders for her feathered friends. She religiously filled hummingbird feeders throughout the summer. And when our sons would visit her, she would take them, breadcrumbs in hand, to a nearby pond to feed the swans. This, even after one of those rascal swans chased after our younger son.
Mom explained that she’d heard on the TV that after a harsh winter, birds loved to use the lint you take out of the dryer to build their nests. I imagine that the birds in her neighborhood loved their newest neighbor, who cared for the least of these.
In her own small, but extravagantly generous of spirit way (who takes the time to take the dryer lint outside in the cold of winter?) she found joy in making a difference for those birds. I imagine Jesus finding joy in her participation with God in caring for “the birds of the air, who neither sow nor reap, yet God provides for them.” (Matthew 6:26 paraphrased)
Mom, thanks for the lesson that nothing is too small for God to use. ~ Anne