Aaron Copland used the Quaker melody "Simple Gifts" as the heart of his great ballet, "Appalachian Spring." The tune is a simple, yet beautiful diatonic melody with lovely lyrics that has become a staple of American culture. The tune reminds me that sometimes, the simplest gifts can be the best and indeed, that it is those simple gifts that yield the greatest pleasures.
On a recent trip to one of my favorite islands in the world, Orcas Island, I was perusing a local artists wares, when I happened to come upon a bowl of "pocket pieces." These pieces were shaped like shells or fish or porpoises or simply little round shapes. Each piece had a simple statement on back: "live simply", "giggle", "delight", "touch hearts", "explore" or "joy". As Melissa and I left the shop, I purchased a handful of these little "pocket pieces" - I figured they were unique and easy to pack, so they would work well as mementos for friends back home. So we returned and I have handed them out, one by one or two by two, to family and friends at home.
To my great surprise, these little pieces have brought more joy than I could have imagined. Like "pocket crosses", I have found that the littlest pieces can bring the greatest joy. One of my colleagues received the fish that says, "giggle" on back. He tells me that he actually "giggles" when he runs across it in his pocket. Another received the piece that says "explore" - He said it reminds him that he needs to spend more time on adventures with his son. An older friend of mine received the little shell-shaped piece that says "touch hearts" - he says that when he puts his hand in his pocket, he finds the little shell and puts his thumb in it. He says it reminds him that as Christians, we are in the "heart touching business." And the list goes on....
Gary Chapman says my "love language" is words of affirmation and physical touch. Maybe that is true, what I do know is that I like to give and I like to make a difference. I realize that little things make a big difference. One does not always have to hit a "home run" to make a difference. Sometimes a smile and a kind word will do.
Let me challenge you, my friends, to make a difference with a simple gift: a smile, a pebble, a quick hug, a word of appreciation. Sometimes that is all it takes to change a day or a life.