Musing about Miniatures

What is it about tiny things that fascinate humans? As a good scientist, I am captivated by all the minuscule creatures that can live in a centimetre of earth or water. Bacteria, germs, viruses, even tiny creatures. The microscope appeared somewhere around 1600 and gave scientists a peek into a whole new world. I suppose some of us are not interested in all the creepy crawlies that live just beneath the surface… Still, one must confess that the microscopic world is a fascinating one. Or let’s think about a little bigger. Mini toys. Lego mini-figures are prized possessions; if you happen to have an Iron Man or Captain America from 2012, you might be in for a bank balance boost of up to $1900. Or what about Polly Pockets from the early 1990s? Weren’t they fun? A whole world in a little purse thing-ie! Mini toys have been around for decades. Dollhouses are one thing… but the world of miniature make-believe? Well, that’s a culture all its own. In total, there were an estimated 3.24 billion mini-gamers across the globe in 2021. These people create and “play” with their miniature toys in tournaments all over the world, sometimes for high stake monetary prizes!

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Now, I don’t know too much about miniature gaming, but this past weekend we went to a new miniature display in our city, depicting various Canadian cities … all scaled down to one or two rooms. Mini parliament buildings, mini Tim Horton’s shops, mini-farms with mini chickens and horses, tiny gardens and even tiny moving bicycles! It was fascinating. Little mini subways with moving cars letting teenie tiny passengers off to their trains at the teenie tiny Union Station. It was a good few hours pointing and lolly gaggling at all the minute details. Just think about the details. Hours upon hours of planning and designing and cutting and crafting, 3D printing and painting. Teensy weensy yellow polka-dot bikinis on itty bitty sunbathers at the beaches. One must take a moment to marvel at the complexity of it all.

Image from Little Canada

Then, as we ponder the fine details, we become aware of how those little things can become a part of something so much larger. Each tiny thing becomes a part of the bigger picture. And so it is with us, my friends. Our tiny existence here on Earth becomes part of a bigger plan in God’s miniature village. How we interact with others, how our “casual meetings” sow the seeds of His love for all mankind. How many times does the Bible refer to “little things” making a big impact? The widow’s mite in the offering plate (Mark 12) or the power of the tongue, one of our tiniest body parts (James 3)? Or how about it only takes a spark to ignite a whole forest fire (also James 3)?

Yes, my friends, no matter how tiny and insignificant you may feel on any given day, be assured that you are no small potatoes to God’s bigger plan. You have been created in all your finite detail, for a specific job. You are part of the display to be pointed at and discovered hidden away, but adding to the landscape. You may think you are small, but you are mighty! Now go out and live like it!

Rotting Fruit

Alright, my friends… this post is not for the squeamish, so if you can’t handle the yucky stuff, move on. I have a funny story to share. We had a lovely dinner out this past weekend, and halfway through dessert, I put my hand down on the booth beside me, only to discover something sticky… which I promptly blamed on my son for being messy and dropping his dinner between us. I was wrong. It seemed to be my purse leaking some awkward, yet sweet-smelling substance. Rewind a few days. Heading home from work late and a dear co-worker says, “Here, take this banana home – it’s a little too spotted for my liking”. Yup. Popped it in the purse to empty it later… fast forward to three days of overripening fruit accumulating in the bottom of the handbag. Lightly coating the contents in the thin, fruity film à la rot. Gross. Lesson learned.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this constant battle of trying to keep fresh fruit and veggies crisp and vibrant. Who else fights with avocados and zucchini, willing them to stay around long enough to be eaten? Or “gently reminds” their children not to play with the apples for fear of bruising? Of course, individual consumers are not the only ones who fight the rot. Margaret Barth, author of “Microbiological Spoilage of Fruits and Vegetables,” estimates that of all the product that is grown in the United States, 20% will be lost to spoilage.  In Canada, 45% of produced fruits and vegetables are wasted. And 1.4 million kids don’t have access to healthy choices. A sad reality.

And although efforts are being made to rectify these issues, moving forward is prooving to be difficult. I watched a video recently about “American dumpster divers”. Folks who make it their mission to finding the treasures left behind by stores. Now, second generation iphones are one thing to find… but 50 lbs of overripe cherries? How do we save such a rich resource? One lady in the video explained it simply… time. Her crew of helpers wash, cut and process the perfectly-good-but-needing-quick-attention produce to share with those who need it. A job the supermarkets simply can’t take on, and so the dumpster it is. The divers have a worthy cause, although unconventional. How many of us are willing to make the sacrifice? Visions of one slimy purse banana creep into my head.

And so I muse. What “good intentions” do we have that seem to solve little in this messy world? God created the natural world and humans to co-exsist in perfect harmony. Sin arrived and made it messy. Unfortunately, nothing we can do can restore that perfect connection we had with our Creator. Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that it is only through God’s gift of grace are we re-united with Him (perfectly…as He originally intended). None of the “good things” we do can reconnect us. Despite our best efforts, good food still rots. If we work hard and make good choices, we can preserve a larger portion of “fruit” and share the wealth with others who can benefit from our efforts… but ultimately God’s perfect gift of salvation is the only way to an eternity in Heaven.

So next time you pluck out that bruised apple from the fruit basket, or search near the back of the fridge and discover the shrivelled up zuchinni (or dare I say find the left over lunch at the bottom of your purse?) be reminded that our best “fruit” still spoils quickly. The dumpster divers among us can assist in using our resources as best we can. We can help reduce the waste by working together to get the job done before time takes over and everything gets yucky. Ultimately, though, we simply must take the gift God gives us from His pure and perfect garden. And how sweet it is, friends, to taste that perfect offering!

Want to learn more about food waste? Here’s some interesting stats: Food Waste

Want to learn more about accepting God’s free gift? Try here: Perfect Fruit

Want to learn ways to make your food last longer? Here’s one source: Preservation

The Simple Pencil

It’s been said that back in the 1960s during the space race, NASA spent a whack load of government money on designing a pen that would write in zero gravity. After all, how will ink run down a page if there is no gravity to pull it that way? How would the astronauts make notes on all the scientific stuff they had to do up there? A new and improved writing instrument must be designed! The Russian astronauts took a simpler approach: they used a pencil.

Photo: Yoann Siloine

All joking aside, I was musing this week about the simple pencil. I’m not sure why… it just happened to come to my brain. So, I looked it up. Faber-Castell, the who’s who of pencils, has been producing top-quality pencils for over 257 years. The leads (both coloured and the typical grey) are made with a clay-graphite mixture that is mixed, dried and basically glued between a sandwich of wood. The wood has to be strong enough to not snap under the weight of the writer’s hand, yet flexible enough to bend slightly for the stroke of the letter. That wood can be shaped in the round, hexagonal or square shape that we all know and love. Not to mention, sharpened to the perfect “tip”. Final exam writers, rejoice!

I love a sharp pencil. It just evokes great memories of the start of something new. A blank canvas if you will. Plus, it makes for remarkable colouring and shading. (re mark able — see what I did there?) Anyway… Have you ever thought about a simple pencil and the possibilities it holds? A funny little muse, isn’t it? Did all sumptuous writers think about the ink or the pen or the pencil they used? Plain paper or ruled? A notebook? Does everyone use a keyboard now? Have we lost touch with the true art of letter writing and letter making? They don’t even teach penmanship in schools anymore (and believe me, it shows!)

The ancient scriptures are one of the most unique collections of writing on the planet! I have no idea how the writers penned the scrolls… ink? chalk? Graphite pencil? Whatever method they used, we can be assured that the words bring promise and hope from an eternal God who cares for His people. And the simple words are our guides for both now and for all future generations! It always amazes me that the Bible is timeless. People have been reading it for hundreds of years… and the words still ring true. It’s because there is something supernatural immersed in those written words. Psalm 119 tells us it is a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path… our truth and our hope”.

Nothing like a sharp pencil — and the words it can make!

I’m guilty of not diving into the Word enough. There is such richness in the written word, and I don’t take full advantage of it as I should. Perhaps I should write out passages. Does anyone do this? I hear it is a great discipline to adhere to, especially in these days of digital screens. Graphite pencils and loss of handwriting skills be banished! Please share in the comments if you’ve tried this. I’d love to hear how it impacted you! Perhaps you’ve journalled with coloured pencils and brought scriptures to life. Share!

And so, my faith journey continues as I think about simple things and how they influence the complex. Oh, and that thing about the space pen? Apparently, some guy named Paul C. Fisher did spend millions in developing what later became known as “the space pen”… which uses a pressurized cartridge to make the ink flow. Even the Russians began using them. Who knew? We earthlings can purchase one for about $50. Maybe I should get one for jotting down sermon notes. Nah, I’ll stick with the simple pencil.