pastoral/spiritual care

The Little Things

In her book, The Blue Sweater, Jacqueline Novogratz tells the story of how a single item of clothing changed her life.  As a young girl, she was given the sweater as a gift.  She loved the knitted image of zebras and Mt. Kilimanjaro on the front, and wore the sweater often.  It became her favorite.  Year after year, when the weather turned colder, she looked forward to putting it on.  Then suddenly, adolescence hit.  Her body began to change, and when she wore the blue sweater that winter, she got teased by a classmate at school.  With all the angst of an adolescent girl, she yelled at her mother for ever allowing her to leave the house in such an ugly sweater, and said she never wanted to see it again.  She discarded it in a pile of clothing to be given to Goodwill.

Ten years passed, and Novogratz hadn’t really given a thought to her blue sweater.  She was living in Rwanda, having graduated from college and hoping to help the poor in Africa.  On her morning jog one day, she spotted a little boy wearing a very familiar sweater.  She ran excitedly over to him, grabbed the collar of the sweater, checked the tag, and to her amazement, she saw her name exactly as her mother had written it when she first got the blue sweater so many years ago.  That moment was an epiphany for Novogratz, showing her just how interconnected we all are.  It was a discovery that led her to start the Acumen Fund, an organization now helping combat global poverty by empowering local people with the knowledge and resources to start sustainable businesses of their own.  None of that would have happened if not for a discarded sweater and a moment of coincidence.

The young teenager who threw away the blue sweater could not have foreseen the entrepreneurial woman she would become, touching lives all over the world.  It would have been easy for Novogratz to miss the moment that changed her life.  If her eyes had not been open to what was around her, she may have run right by the little boy wearing her sweater without a glance.  It is only when we make ourselves available to God by paying attention that we are sometimes able to see how our lives fit into the larger design God is knitting together. 

God, thank you for gifts of coincidence.  Help us not to miss the ways you are at work in these moments.  Open our eyes to the lessons you have to teach us and show us how we are connected to one another and to you in ways we might never suspect.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent

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