Saturday, 20 July 2013


I was going to write about our grandson Solay’s 5th birthday this week, and the wonder of grandkids. But then, I picked up Anne Lamott’s book Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. It’s all good, but the section on Wow! is just too good not to share with you.

Describing the feeling of awe and wonder, she writes, “[You say] Wow, because you are almost speechless, but not quite. You can manage, but barely, this one syllable.” I know the feeling: small wow moments, like biting into a bowl of tomatoes warm from the garden, sprinkled with basil freshly cut;  bigger WOWs inspired by the Rocky mountains and the Grand Canyon. Sometimes, life just gives you a shake and all you can say is, “Wow!”

 Then Lamott adds a “wow” sentence: “When we are stunned to the place beyond words, we are finally beginning to get somewhere.” Yes, we were stopped in our tracks, but now we get to go someplace new. When we say Wow!, we give ourselves permission to grow. Wow moments make a space for new insights, new perspectives, new ideas.

You don’t need to go very far to find a wow source: just look for kids. I realize that writing about a child’s birthday and writing about Wow may not be so different, after all, because what I wanted to say about Solay – and all other children – is Wow!

Solay was born 5 years ago, on a warm July afternoon, at home, while I was taking care of his older four-year-old brother Aya. I’m sure Solay’s birth was a wow moment, but so was the afternoon I spent with Aya while we waited. We passed several hours in the sun-dappled shade down by the river across the street from our home. Aya played as only children can: deep in his own imaginative world as I sat nearby. Dams were built, rivers dredged up, rocks became magical creatures, leaf barges floated down the stream, bugs were given safe passage, fossils were collected and time stood still for us both. It was a wow experience.

So often, when I am in the presence of children, I am “stunned beyond words.” In response to my suggestion, at Sunday School, that we will now pray, five year old Jack flops down on his belly, his head buried in the carpet, his hands clasped, and begins: “Dear God...” He looks up. “So what should I tell him?” I suggest thanks, and he continues: “Thanks for people, and thanks for love. Amen.” Yes, that about sums it up, Jack. Why can’t we keep it that simple? Wow!

The unfinished quilt "A Child's World" that illustrates this piece of writing was inspired by Solay when he was about 2 years old. He was dancing about in our garden, full of wonder at the things he was seeing: butterflies and rocks, clouds and slugs, toy trucks and sand pails.  He’s an equal-opportunity wonderer.  Anne Lamott says, “Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds ... Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business.” 

Thanks, Annie...and thanks, Solay, for inviting Opa and me to your birthday party on the beach, where we sat in the sunshine and flew kites, launched rockets and said grace for the sushi, where life stood still for a little while and we could say, “Wow!”

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