Friday, October 16, 2015


I’ve been trying for some time to focus on the little things.

Which can be difficult at times, because it’s not always what the world wants of us. Society expects big things… tasks accomplished, lists checked off, goals achieved as fast as possible - which can be good! But I wonder, when the focus is on making big things happen quickly, what do we let slip through the cracks?

I am a full time volunteer at the Marist Brothers Center at Esopus (MBCE), just starting my second year of service. Presence is one element of our charism, and I have found that practicing presence is both easier and more meaningful when I focus on small gestures that show my care and respect for those around me.

A large part of my work here is hospitality. And the little things are exceptionally important when it comes to making someone feel welcome. Some might question if it really matters whether the bed is perfectly straight against the wall. If a lamp isn’t exactly in the middle of the bedside table, will anyone even notice? If I don’t look someone in the eye while I’m serving them dinner, will they really care? Yes. In my past year here, I’ve come to learn that these small touches really do matter.

You see, if we make sure that the beds and lamps look their best, we’re more likely to remember to include everything a guest might need in their room. If we take care of a guest like this before he or she even arrives, we are much more likely to look them in the eyes when they come through the door and truly mean “Welcome home” when we say it. And if we do this, and treat each person with kindness from the beginning, we are not only meeting their human needs… we are also honoring the God within them.

For me, there’s no better way to practice being truly present. A knowing smile across the room, a surprise bag of favorite chips, a handwritten thank you note instead of a text… A shared prayer when I am worried, giving me a reason to go for a drive when I have something to process...  These things stand out in my memories of people who really know what it means to be where your feet are, and sometimes I even remember them better than big displays of affection. I think this is because they involve someone with a dedication to getting things done right, and the attention to know exactly the small gesture that will make me smile, or put my heart at ease. These actions say, “I’m here, and I want you to know that.”

Presence is a trait of someone who is Marist, and it can be practiced every day. So I challenge you to do the little things, and to be more aware of what is being done for you - it could make all the difference!

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