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On the Way   The Rt. Rev. Audrey Scanlan
the little things



I was listening to a meditation podcast the other day- it’s something new that I’ve been doing, receiving training in meditation to grow my practice-  and the teacher was leading us through a “body scan.”  A body scan is a common practice in which, body part by body part, you pay attention to how that one particular part of your body is feeling as you meditate-  is it holding tension? relaxed? sore? heavy? etc.- and, little by little you “notice- without judgment” your whole body.  It is a way to step into a time of practice and to relax, fully.    Well.  I couldn’t help but laugh a little bit when the teacher invited us to notice the “tiny muscles in our ears” and the “tiny muscles in our lips.” Seriously?  I didn’t even know that I had muscles in my ears.  This totally threw me off of my game, but it led me to a good realization:  sometimes the little things are the most important.  Paying attention to the little things can help us make sense of the bigger issues, invite us to look for and find connection, and give us a greater awareness of the whole, the larger system.  And so, I sat and meditated on my ears, which I never even thought had muscles (aren’t they mostly cartilage?) and on my lips, which are pretty busy every day, as I move from meeting to meeting, sharing my thoughts and ideas.


Last Sunday, I had the gift of visiting a church that has a good number of children.  I always love it when children come to the altar rail.  I make a point to bend down (not sure how many more years my knees will allow that) and  look them right in the eye as I administer communion. On this occasion, there were a couple of children who did not receive communion but who came forward for a blessing.  Other times when this has happened, I have asked the child’s name and if I can put my hand on their head to give them a blessing. And then,with permission, I do, blessing them using the tripartite formula.  (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) On this past Sunday, something happened. Call it the work of the Holy Spirit.  When the first child came to the rail with arms crossed, I did my usual “thing,” asking his name and permission to put my hands on his head, but instead of the usual words, I heard myself saying this: “ God loves you.  You are loved.  God will give you all of the strength and love and courage that you need.  You are loved.”  I said it slowly, and surely, and looked into that boy’s big, brown eyes.  He smiled the whole time, his eyes locked with mine, he smiled a gap-toothed smile, and I knew that he understood.  It was a moment.  A small moment.  An extraordinary moment.


Pay attention to the small things.  The small moments.  They can rock your world, if you take the time to slow down and notice them.


Now that I know I have muscles in my ears, I’m going to learn how to wiggle them.

5 thoughts on “the little things”

  1. Nanette Anslinger says:

    I used this meditative exercise in my drama classes! Had the kids lie on the floor and concentrate on each part of their bodies, starting with the tips of their toes and working their way to the top of their heads. Took the whole class period. (THAT wasn’t planned: it just happened!) Gave them a realization of how they needed to pay attention to their bodies when they were on stage. They approached rehearsals a lot more thoughtfully. Thanks for the memory.

  2. audrey scanlan says:

    excellent! It is a great practice that helps to focus awareness. Glad it came back to you in a good memory!

  3. Paige McFarling says:

    As crazy as this sounds, if you ever need a little video for inspiration, all three of my girls can really wiggle their ears. Genetic? Nah, but cute as all get out.

    1. audrey scanlan says:

      love it! I’m sure they would really appreciate your sharing it with me!

  4. Jim Robertson says:

    Bishop Audrey, as a still practicing, very part time Audiologist, our ears do indeed contain cartilage in the outer ear, three bones, the smallest bones in the body, in the middle ear, and a fluid bathed cochlea in the inner ear. I have not tried mediating on my ears.
    I agree that paying attention to the little things gives us a glimpse into the whole. St. David, of Wales, instilled in the Welsh people, “it’s the little things that matter.”

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