God is in the detail

The aphorism “the devil is in the details” pretty much sums up what happens when life start to get crazy. The more complicated with details life gets, the more stress is produced and the darker my whole outlook. Details pull me off-center, down rabbit-holes and dead ends. If I am paying attention to my body and my spirit, I will notice when this starts to happen. The diabolical thing, of course, is that I’m usually too busy going crazy with details to be paying attention to anything.

As familiar as this phrase is, the original aphorism (of unknown origin) is strikingly different: God is in the detail (notice: no “s”.) Reorienting toward God changes my outlook, and I can move from fragmentation to simplicity. All of a sudden the goal becomes spiritual devotion, doing something well, looking for God in small things.

14th-century Christian mystic Julian of Norwich had a famous vision in which God showed her “a little thing, the size of a hazelnut…I marveled how it might last, for it seemed it might suddenly have sunk into nothing because of its littleness. And I was answered in my understanding: ‘It lasts and ever shall, because God loves it.’” God is in the detail.

I bought a (really pricey) heirloom tomato at the farmer’s market the other day. I doubted it was worth the cost, but wanted to support the vendor. Later, my doubt was overcome by joy: I had not tasted a tomato like that since since childhood. I kept saying “Oh, my God”…like a prayer.

Paying special attention to details—one hazelnut or tomato at a time— reveals God, the creator of all things.

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