I was thinking today about how important the little details in life can be. Indeed they can make or break a project. If a tiny cog is left out of something mechanical, it probably won’t function at all; if one word is left out of a sentence it can totally change the meaning. In some languages, even a slight difference in tone can alter the meaning of a word.
My first novel was set in the late 1960’s and if I hadn’t researched before writing the book, I could have made some terrible mistakes. By checking what paintings were actually in the National Gallery in London at the time when my protagonist visited, I avoided the possibility of an expert in art recognising an error. In the process of researching which parts of the building were open at the time, we found out that the main entrance to the National Gallery would have been closed and all visitors had to use a different entrance. Someone could have noticed that, and for some people that spoils the whole story.
According to Wikipedia, even the expression The devil is in the detail originally came from the expression, God is in the detail.
The idiom the devil is in the detail refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details, and derives from the earlier phrase God is in the detail expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.
Clearly there are times when trying to organise things down to the last detail is a waste of time but when we are trying to express our love or gratitude or something similar, the other person will be pleased that we have made that effort. When I was a student nurse I had little money to spare but used to buy ribbons and I learned to make my own bows so that the presents that I gave to my family and friends looked as if I had made an effort. Somehow that made up for the fact that I hadn’t spent much.
It seems to me that Christmas can be a time when we have an opportunity to show our love for our family and friends by taking time over details. We could make individual name place cards or tiny favour boxes with each person’s favourite sweet – any little thing that we can think of that acknowledges the individuality of the person.
I wrote a poem a while back which describes the care that God takes over the detail.
Love is in the detail. (meditations on a flower)
Wings that flutter flushed with colour;
harmonized with vibrant veins
plucked from skeins
and finely threaded
through splendid silks,
by the hand of pure perfection,
as the master makes selection;
mixes, blends and gently hones,
marrying the tints and tones.
However little time we have, we could use some of it this Christmas to make someone else feel special.