Brian Doyle edits Portland Magazine at the University of Portland in Oregon. Annie Dillard has called it "the best spiritual magazine in the country." Doyle is the author of 13 books of essays, fiction, and poetry. His work has been honored with a Christopher Medal and a Catholic Press Association Book Award.
At the end of Ingmar Bergman's film Fanny and Alexander, the eldest character makes an impassioned plea to the younger members of the family:
"We must live in the little, the little world. We shall be content with that and cultivate it and make the best of it. It is necessary, and not in the least shameful, to take good pleasure in good food, gentle smiles, fruit trees in bloom, waltzes."
In this sprightly collection of more than 40 essays, Doyle unfurls his imagination and delivers a heartfelt tribute to the little things that play such an integral part of his life as a Catholic. For example in a four-page ditty, he celebrates the blessings of his rosary by ten different people. Doyle creatively muses on what Jesus did during "the missing years " from age twelve through 20. In another selection he presents his take on St. Paul's paean to love in I Corinthians. Here you will also find terse essays on saints, the beauty of the mass, baptism, holiness, prayer, and priests. Here are a couple memorable quotations from Doyle:
• "We were all laughing, he said, but there was a sweet reverence to the moment which I do not forget. There are more sacramental moments than we know."
• "As I get older it's the small things that seem the biggest to me, and the fact that the singer can't find the key and the reader mumbles seem unutterably sweet ."