When the ordinary becomes extraordinary it’s something else entirely. In our jaded all-encompassing age of knowledge it can be difficult to be amazed. While “perspective” is not a new concept, it’s refreshing to observe.
Our little church recently received a guest pastor bringing an entourage of family from the west coast with him. We arrived in the sodden parking lot at the same time so my husband and I greeted the family warmly as introductions were made. We slowly made our way to the front door, chatting of the weather because it was unusually warm. I thought we had disappointed them by not having piles of snow in Wisconsin.
Opening the door for our new friends, I was ready to usher them out of our disreputable weather. When they didn’t respond to the opened entrance, I turned to see what was delaying them. They had all cast their eyes skyward where almost 100 geese chose that moment to rise from the nearby river to fly closely over us. The geese gave a plaintive cacophony of honking.
I was being treated to the moment of someone else’s wonder. The 9-year-old girl along with her parents and her grandmother marveled at the closeness of a natural phenomenon.
For a couple of years my neighbors have had a huge July 4 picnic. Their yard fills with children running through the grass, anxious to be free. I enjoy the company of kids so I have invited the kids to our house for nature-scavenger hunts. Our Kubota utility vehicle serves me well for loading eight to 10 kids to transport them to our “Back Forty.” On the way out it’s usually hot and sun-soaked. The kids are eager for any surprises in the humid dense woods. I partner the children so each one in each twosome can read the paper I’ve typed. As we walk along together we look for mushrooms, woodpecker holes in trees and muddy deer trails. We find bracket fungus, tiny orange mushrooms and toadstools of every shape.
I encourage them to use all their senses – to taste the sweetness of red-clover nectar growing in a sunny spot, smell the dankness of old tree bark and feel the softness of a mossy rock. The older kids venture ahead as the younger kids ask questions. It’s muddy in places, slippery and slow. We look at bugs and worms, flowers and leaf patterns. I point out the Jack-in-the-Pulpit, which are rare in many places but grow like weeds at our farm. We peek into the pulpit to find Jack. As we explore the chatter of birds calling out a warning echoes through the treetops as we listen.
During one hunt the eldest boy found my red gloves from the fall before. I had lost them while dragging out a deer my husband had shot. We all hailed him as a hero. Titus was his name – a true hero’s name if I ever heard one.
Following deer trails takes us deep into the thickest areas. Trees downed during storms must be traversed by going over or under. The kids have a great adventure.
Filling little minds with questions and then answers is an incredible privilege to me. When I see a child’s eyes light with new understanding, my heart soars. Each child’s perspective is formed by what they understand. Awe and wonder can be fleeting; I like a front-row seat when it happens.
I have a question that I often ask my own grandkids.
“Who loves you more than anyone else in the whole wide world?”
Any answer given that is not “Grandma” is met with many tickles until they relinquish and name me.
When I write a checklist for a scavenger hunt I off-handedly type that query at the bottom of each list. I imagine “Mom” or “Dad” might be answers. To my pleasure and surprise it’s been unanimously “God.” Their conviction has been my turn for a moment of amazement.
God’s creations are my muses. The children’s touchstone is our God. Wonderment comes full-circle.