HomedotMagisReflectionsPermission to Notice

Permission to Notice

Quote in harvest colors - "Cherish what is simple. Be in awe of what is great." - Christopher de Vinck in The Center Will Hold

When I was in Kindergarten, I took the school bus home. The driver dropped me off three blocks away from my house. Since my mother was home with my two little sisters while they took their afternoon nap, I walked the rest of the way home. It was 1980; kids did that sort of thing then.

One sunny afternoon I was 15 minutes late, then 20. My mother knew it was no longer a matter of the bus being late. She left the girls sleeping in their crib and ran down the street to see if she could find me. She did not have to go far. She found me at the end of the block, sitting at the bottom of a tree, talking to a kitten sitting in its branches.

I remember this afternoon clearly. The kitten was a calico, and I thought she looked like a tiny tiger. I remember how the kitten seemed to be talking to me—not in real words but in her meow and purrs. Now as an adult, I think she probably needed my help down from the tree, but as a child, I was simply delighted in that little kitten.

In his marvelous new book, The Center Will Hold, Christopher de Vinck writes, “Cherish what is simple. Be in awe of what is great.” I think the two go hand in hand. If we cannot learn to cherish the small things, how can we stop and see that which is great? If we don’t develop a discipline of noticing, would we ever notice the big things when they happen?

Sometimes I think it’s about giving ourselves permission. I suppose I’d feel silly now as an adult standing to talk to a kitten in a tree for 20 minutes, but why not? Why not notice the sweet, simple things all around us each day? In giving ourselves permission to notice, to hold onto these small moments, we build a life of gratitude.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells us that his Father takes care of even the smallest things, like flowers. Jesus says to notice them so that we will see how the Father takes care of us (12:22–31). Wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t notice these small, simple ways God was showing care for us? How God was telling us he loves us?

If we look at life through this lens, it’s nearly a game—a scavenger hunt—to find that small, simple moment, hold it in our hands, and cherish it. Where will God reveal himself to us today? I hope you will share it with someone when you find it. Then we can cherish God’s love together.

Shemaiah Gonzalez
Shemaiah Gonzalezhttps://www.shemaiahgonzalez.com/
Shemaiah Gonzalez is a freelance writer who holds a B.A. in English Literature and a M.A. in Intercultural Ministry. She thrives on moments where storytelling, art, and faith collide. Published on Busted Halo and America Magazine among others, she is obsessed with being well-rounded as she jumps from Victorian lit to Kendrick Lamar, from the homeless shelter to the cocktail party. A Los Angeles native, she now lives in Seattle with her husband and their two sons.


  1. We all need to slow down and appreciate the beauty which surrounds us and remember that the small gestures of love can have a big impact on others

  2. Thanks Shemaiah. Your story reminds me of what I read about Saint Francis of Assisi: ‘My brother birds, you should greatly praise your Creator and love Him always. He clothed you with feathers and gave you wings for flying. Among all His creatures, He made you free and gave you the purity of the air. You neither sow nor reap, He nevertheless governs you without your least care.’

  3. Definitely true. I’m struck by your mom leaving the little ones safe napping, to run for the one “lost sheep” that strayed. It’s the story of the Good Shepherd. Your mom illustrated it beautifully. God will always come after us. “And on your shoulder gently laid, and home rejoicing brought me.”

  4. Lovely story, I wonder what happened to the Calico kitten. I hope the owner was found?
    Lately I have been hearing a new bird, which I cannot see: in the garden and trees, it gives a happy song and then says what sounds like Thank you. Thank you >I wish I could find it I would like to day Thank you back to it. You are so right, the simple things are still there, waiting for us to see, hear and be thankful. This old world of ours is such a sad and sorry place at present. Thank God for the small pleasures still around. A.M.D.G.

  5. Thanks Shemaiah. There are so many sad, frustrating, and scary things going on in the world right now. Thank you for reminding me to look for God’s love all around me in small things.

  6. Thanks, Shemaiah. This morning I took some magazine to a house-bound friend and on the way noticed the firethorn bushes laden with bright red berries to sustain the birds through the winter. Fantastic sight! Thanks for reminding me to “Cherish what is simple”


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