A meditation by Rev. Susan K. Smith:
We often do not understand how it is “the little things”
that make the biggest impact on the lives of people around
us. Those “little things” can be positive or negative;
words, gestures, attitudes, body language …all of them
count. That we do not appreciate their power is unfortunate.
I heard a story on NPR about someone doing something
seemingly “little” that absolutely impacted the life of her
son. Sylvia Bullock was a minister, raising a son on her
own. He was a kid, doing what kids do, and when he was 15,
he stole a car. Though it was his first offense, he was
tried as an adult and was sentenced to eight years in
He was afraid, of course, and so was his mother. He had
heard the horror stories of what prison was like, and he
concentrated on surviving. His mother wanted him to survive
as well – but she also wanted him to know that no matter
what, she loved him.
So, while he concentrated on surviving, she concentrated on
staying connected. The loss of her son to “the system” ate
at her and she grew depressed. She says she stopped cooking
dinner, something she had always done and had loved doing.
Nothing really mattered anymore – except staying connecting
with her son and making the connection stronger than it had
So, she took to being a mother in a different way. She wrote
her son letters, consistently, for the entire time he was in
prison. He says “the letters were everything,” and he looked
forward to them. In these eight-to-nine page missives, he
said she “bared her soul to him.” For her, the writing was a
way to honor her intention to stay connected.
She also called the prison wardens, regularly, to check on
her son. She wanted them to know that he had a mama who
cared, and that they should be careful, as he was a child in
an adult setting. She called the wardens to check on her
When her son was released from prison, Sylvia Bullock – Rev. Sylvia
Bullock was there. She had been a minister in the way that
counts most – by doing “the little things” for her biggest
blessing, her son. Her embarrassment at having a son
incarcerated was sent to the back of the bus. If anyone was
going to save her child, it would be her, with the help of
God. She wrote letters. She called the wardens, And she
never lost hope or confidence in her son.
Her son has begun a business that makes it easier for
families and inmates to communicate; his mother is the chief
operating officer. He is being all that she knew he was, and
more. She was not about to let a system dictate to her son
who he was; it was through doing “the little things” that
she communicated love, compassion and the realness of God.
The story made me think about what “little things” I am
doing or not doing for others – and it also made me do
inventory on “little things” I may or may not be doing that
affect others negatively. It seems so easy to concentrate on
the things that God has put in us that make us who we are
and which make us special to God and to others.
God has made no mistakes, and even if nobody ever tells us
that, it is something we should know. Sylvia Bullock knew
it. She knew she was not a mistake and she sure knew her son
was not a mistake. She knew that what he had done was not
the definition of who he was. She knew that the love
communicated by her through the doing of “the little things”
like writing letters and calling the warden would let her
son know that in this world, he mattered and he had worth.
She refused to let “the big thing,” i.e., “the system,” take
her son and shred his spirit to bits.
It is “the little things” that we have and that we can
share which can change us, first, and change our environment
and our world. It is “the little things” which can make the
“crooked places straight and the rough places smooth.” It is
“the little things” that make God smile, because as we
identify what is in us that makes us able to share our own
“little things,” we begin to know ourselves as God knew us
at the moment of our conception. It is “the little things”
that will make this world what God wants it to be.
Amen and amen!
Rev. Susan K Smith, D.Min, is an ordained minister who is
also an author, writer, and speaker, who concentrates on the
intersectionality of race, politics and religion. She is
available for speaking, and can be reached at
Reprinted by permission
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at