I remember learning about the word “microcosm” when I was in fifth grade. As homework, our teacher handed each of us a 36-inch string and told us to make a circle on the ground. Then we were to look at everything within the circle, study it, and see what lived in our tiny world.

From them on I was fascinated with little worlds. I spent hours sitting in the grass creating environments for ants and little bugs. I made chairs out of leaves and gowns out of petals. I made tiny roads and houses out of twigs. But mostly I just watched.

I took my string everywhere, and suddenly I saw the world with new eyes. Lawns, pebble-strewn pathways, rock ledges with carpets of moss—all I had to do was make a circle and I could create a new world. Well, not exactly “create,” but I could modify existing worlds and try to improve them.

Today I hear of tragedies in the news and weep over the headlines. I listen to political debates and wonder if people will ever agree, or if they are so absorbed in their arguments that they’ll never see the things they have in common.

I wish I could change the world. I wish I could make it a cleaner, more beautiful place. I wish I could end war and violence. I wish good will really could fill the earth. I was pondering this as I took my morning walk. Then I remembered the little girl in fifth grade, and I realized that while I cannot change the entire world, I can make my little world a better place. I cannot change everyone’s heart, but I can influence the person walking beside me.

I can create a microcosm of peace in a world of tempests. I can make my home a haven of calm in the midst of storms. I can take steps to make my surroundings more beautiful. God may not have given me a huge world to change, but I can change my tiny world by finding ways to fill it with God’s love each day.