Windows to Wonder

I heard a sermon once where the pastor talked about how, particularly when life gets hard, it’s tempting to keep your head down. I knew just what he meant. It's when your own life, with all of its specific challenges and complications becomes like a small room that you live in and you can't see out— and you forget to look for a door or a window.

I've been thinking about that lately because I've had my head down a bit too much the last few weeks. But when I remember the stars and tree tops and moss and mushrooms, and the incredible stories that set
my mind traveling down strange and wonderful paths, and when I remember God and how He never leaves and is always trustworthy and full of mystery, my little world opens up and I can see out again.

Don't you think that we all tend to look down too much for one reason or another? This week I'm hoping to do a better job of intentionally keeping in mind all those things that are windows to wonder.


The Zoning Elf

When my oldest daughter was around seven or eight she was given a list of spelling words each week at school. She had to learn how to spell them and then write each word in a sentence, to demonstrate her understanding. One of the words was "zoning". 

Okay, now I need to pause in order to consider this word choice. Zoning? Isn't that an odd word to introduce to a tiny kid? They're not going to need to use "zoning" for at least ten or fifteen years, maybe even longer. "Zoning" should be way down the list somewhere around the word "frenetic" or "nauseant". 

Anyway, I was looking at the sentences my daughter had written to go with each word, and noticed that there was a red X next to the last one. Written in wonderfully cute, little kid handwriting, it said, "I see the zoning elf." Isn't that the funniest sentence? I loved it so much! It demonstrated two things very clearly. First, my daughter did not know what zoning meant (hence the red X). Second, she was very imaginative and had cleverly attempted to use her imagination to cover up the fact that she didn't understand the word. 

To this day, whenever I hear the word "zoning", which is to say, not very often, I immediately think, "I see the zoning elf",  and I imagine a tiny elf dressed all in green. For that reason, I'm thankful "zoning" was on the spelling list. 


Being Seen

In elementary school I dreaded being called up to the front of the class for any reason. I sat in the back and when the teacher started calling kids names to come up and claim their graded assignments, I would immediately feel anxious. I would picture myself tripping and everyone looking at me. I was so scared of that. I hated the feeling of being seen.

So, you can imagine I was not pleased to be chosen out of an enormous crowd to assist some clowns in the circus one day on a field trip. Can you even believe that?! I wasn't raising my hand or anything. In fact, I was ducking while most kids were up out of their seats waving their hands, desperate to be chosen.  I couldn't believe it myself when I heard the man with the microphone say, "The little girl in the back—with the braids and the red shirt and overalls—come on up and help us out!" I was like, "What?? Me?" And I wouldn't have gone up except that my teacher insisted that I go. And though this isn't a very important detail, I still want to tell you that the overalls I was wearing were white with tiny fruit all over them. I loved them but unfortunately after this particular day, I loved them significantly less as they now reminded me of clowns and audiences, and I wasn’t a fan of either. 

It wasn't fun helping the clowns that day. I remember feeling confused and not understanding exactly what they wanted me to do. But I did get to ride in a clown car, so that was something…

Now that I'm grown up, from time to time I'm invited to speak to a group of people about art or writing or creativity and i still feel scared being in front of all those people. But this is how I do it: I intentionally remember that God is all around me and so I imagine myself hidden in Him… And I wear very colorful, patterned clothing to distract people from noticing that I'm sweating a lot. Two very different but useful strategies. For real—that's what I do.