May: moments of wonder

Last night I folded up a big Target box and put it in the recycling bin.  The box was covered in sharpie words and crayon drawings, and has been a major focus of this house for several days.  As I took it out, noticing that the air is positively swampy with spring as I did so, I thought how thrilled I am that Grace and Whit still find a cardboard box to be a thrilling thing to play with.   The arrival of a big cardboard box is met with celebrating, and provides days of fodder for playing together or alone.  I love this.

It reminded me of the night, a few weeks ago, when I decided to make a chocolate fudge cake that I’d first made for Whit, on his request, last summer.  I surprised the kids with the cake in the morning, and gave them each fat slices for breakfast.  They looked at me, bewildered wonder on their faces, suspecting, I think, that I was going to announce that I was joking and snatch the plates away.  I wasn’t, and I didn’t.  They were thrilled beyond all reason at this tiny surprise.  Grace even told me recently that she had written a “whole page” in her journal at school about this, and I groaned at her that she wasn’t making me look very good in front of her teacher.

I get the same sense of awed pride when I asked Whit recently what his favorite part of spring break was.  He said, without hesitating, “Disney,” but then he went on, “but close after that, our trip to Walden.”  Or when, after a dinner full of rowdy, obnoxious bickering, they calm down, within minutes, when we go for a pajama-clad ‘notice things’ walk.  Furthermore, that they ask, over and over again, for these walks.

I know for sure that this is one of the things I most want to pass on to my children: the propensity for delight, the willingness to be amazed, an openness to the hugeness of small things.  Whether it’s a trait or an inclination I’m not sure; I don’t know that it matters.  I do know, however, that it is one way to assure a life full of joy.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be great sorrow, too.  As far as I can tell they are often twined entirely together.  If there’s one thing I want to do as a mother, it is to help Grace and Whit hold onto their capacity for wonder.

I noticed, as I tried to find a link, that I have more than a few blog posts with “wonder” in the title.  All of a sudden it occurred to me that maybe that’s what this blog is about: the wonder of ordinary life.  The wonder of that design, of which we sometimes glimpse the contours, though never the whole.  The wonder of human relationships, the sky, the turning of the seasons, poetry, the power contained in the light of a day.  The wonder of living in the slipstream of time, whose eddies are both utterly unique and totally universal.  That’s what this blog has been, for almost five years: a record of my moments of wonder, both in their thunderous joy and their swelling sadness.  And a love letter to those two small guides who have shown me the way here.

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  1. Posted December 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    “. . .the propensity for delight, the willingness to be amazed, an openness to the hugeness of small things. . .”


    Thanks for saying that so eloquently. I’m struck by that is so much what I want to pass on to my almost 3 year old son. I secretly love that his most enjoyed Christmas gift so far is the $3 “creepy caterpillar” that Santa left in his stocking. Sometimes I’m afraid he’s going to lose that too soon, but I hope he has that wonder FOR-EVER!

    Sending you some new year courage!

  2. Posted December 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, I hear you — about how it’s an evolution unfolding of discovering what you are about — in terms of your blog. YES YES YES – yours is about rediscovering wonder in everyday life. Mine is about rediscovering delight in everyday life. I’ve said this for years. Maybe now a decade and a half. I wonder (ha!) sometimes why we choose our “focus” or how it chooses us. Lovely.

  3. Erin
    Posted December 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Love this post.

  4. Posted December 26, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Do you have the picture book NOT A BOX by Antoinette Portis? I think you and your kids will love it (if you haven’t already read it). And, thanks for making me think about and so try to appreciate more “the wonder of the ordinary.” I’m sure you also know and love Pablo Neruda’s Odes to Common Things.