It's the little things that count

A few days ago a sister with whom I'd lived as a novice died. A humble, kind and generous woman, Tarci was invariably loving, and one of whom any number of small favours could be confidently asked. Timorous about many new experiences, she was unafraid of showing affection, or of taking initiative if she felt someone needed her help. She was a good person to have in a formation community: she never gave us novices any input or classes, but she taught us a great deal nonetheless - just by being who and how she was - about fidelity and the centrality of God, kindness, generosity and simple, loving service, happily given.

She was a great woman, said one of my noviciate companions in an email, and indeed she was - but not in the ways greatness is usually measured. Tarci's name will never appear in history books or on a plaque, and no building will ever be named after her, but she was surely one of those to whom Jesus could have said Rejoice, because your name is written in heaven... (Luke 10.20). In her case the citation would undoubtedly read Mistress of the little things, because it was in so many little things - simply, unobtrusively done - that Tarci showed her huge love.

I was able to visit Tarci the day before she died. I recalled and thanked her for all those little things, reminding her of how she would regularly lay the dinner table to give that day's cook one less thing to do, then slip into the kitchen just as the steam was rising and dirty pans were beginning to pile up. She didn't waste time (or draw attention to herself) by asking if help was needed, but simply rolled up her sleeves and started on the washing up.

And Tarci nodded, murmuring It's the little things that count - and indeed they do. We may take them for granted, but take away those little things and life is that bit harder or unfriendlier, that bit less sweet. And therein lay Tarci's greatness; not in heroism or grand gestures, leadership or pioneering, but in simplicity, humility and willing service in countless little things, all of which live on in happy memory and do count, so very much.