Sensitivity: The Art of the Small

I’m a pretty sensitive person. I notice small things. And I am easily touched by them. Little things can excite me; they also can bother me. Sometimes I am tempted to think sensitivity is more cross than gift. I say to myself, “If you weren’t so sensitive, you wouldn’t be feeling this pain.”

Even though sensitivity can cause pain, it is still a precious gift—a gift absolutely essential for Christian living. After all, most of the good done in the world is the direct result of someone’s sensitivity. We have ramps for entering buildings because someone was sensitive to the needs of those in wheelchairs. We recycle our paper, glass, and plastic because someone was sensitive to the basic health of our planet. Women vote in this country because Susan B. Anthony and others were sensitive to the injustice of denying women this right.

Carlos Valles, SJ, calls sensitivity “the art of the small.” I think he’s right. Ordinarily sensitivity is not expressed in sweeping movements but in little gestures: the attentive look, the kind interpretation, the simple word, the small token, the gentle touch.

Jesus was sensitive. He worked his first miracle at a wedding reception just to save a young couple from embarrassment. While being mobbed by a crowd, he was sensitive to the tassel-touching of the woman with the hemorrhage. And of all the people standing outside the temple treasury that one day, only Jesus seemed to notice the poor widow depositing her two small coins. And only he was instantly able to assess their real worth.

Yes, we can be overly sensitive and take offense at every little thing. Somewhere along the way we must learn there are some things we should overlook and forget about. At the same time we need never apologize or feel bad for being sensitive. Jesus himself was master of the art of the small.

Am I sensitive? If so, is sensitivity a cross or gift for me?

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  1. SR,MAGGIE MOORE,SSJ on July 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Ahhhhhhh sensitivity…would that we all had even a small dab of it in our lives.
    grateful to you , Melannie

  2. Diana on July 30, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    Hi, Melannie. Hope you are well and enjoying this marvelous summer? Are you sensitive to the heat? (heeee) Now, you got me thinking about being sensitive. The first thing that comes to mind is having a tooth that is sensitive to cold or hot. That sensitivity message is telling me something about myself that perhaps I’ve not noticed…until I almost go through the roof because of the pain. I could either numb the pain and prolong the agony or I could get to the “root” of the problem. Either way, some sort of action has to occur. I’m not overly fond of going to the dentist, but I faithfully go every six months. Yes, sensitivity is a call to act. When we take ourselves out of the picture, you just can’t ever be too sensitive to the needs of others. Easier said than done.
    Thanks Melannie,

    • Melannie Svoboda SND on August 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

      Dear Diana, I loved your concrete example of the tooth ache! Yes, our sensitivity often is telling us to take some action. Good point! Thanks for your comment! Melannie

  3. Ellen Svette Huntsman on July 31, 2012 at 9:23 am

    Amen, Sr. Maggie!! We all need a little more of this gift.

    Thank you for the blog Sr. Melannie.

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