Going Marveling

A couple of years ago I mentioned in a sermon the idea of “going marveling.” What is marveling? I learned it from my favorite pastor, Fred Craddock. He said that when he was a child and was bored his parents would take him on walks and they’d stop to notice things like flowers, birds, or the way a cloud moved across the sky. Marveling is slowing down to pay attention to God’s creation; it’s recapturing a sense of childlike wonder.

A couple of weeks after I told that story, I received a picture from Nancy Dewire of some gorgeous flowers in full bloom. Nancy said, “I want you to know I’ve been out marveling.” Going marveling continues to be a spiritual practice for Nancy. She says, “I’ve always noticed things that are pretty, but after that message on marveling I look at things differently. I now see God’s design and beauty in nature, and I’m just amazed at how things happen, or why they happen. I marvel at ducks swimming in a line. I marvel at my garden, mostly because I’m surprised that anything I plant actually grows. The other day I marveled at some flowers that grew around a light pole. It looked as though the light pole had on a dress.”

While Nancy appreciates the beauty and wonder of nature, her highest form of marveling is reserved for children. Nancy teaches the two-year-old class at our Preschool. She works with her good friend and church member, Susan Brown. Nancy spent her career working with children. She was a speech and language pathologist with Chesterfield County for 30 plus years. She worked in early intervention, helping children with communication and feeding disorders. She said, “Once I found my love of children and babies, I never got up off the floor.”

After Nancy retired, she discovered that she missed the children terribly. She missed their laughter, smiles, and energy. She learned about an opening in our Preschool and we’re blessed to have her on staff. She and Susan make a wonderful team and they truly love the children they teach. Nancy says, “Our job is to let them know they are loved and loved by others outside their immediate family and that learning is fun. That’s our focus.”

The love of their children really manifested itself during Covid-19. Once Preschool closed Nancy and Susan began teaching over Zoom. On Tuesdays they read books, sang songs and had more traditional learning activities. She said she was surprised by how much the children would actually play with each other over Zoom. They’d show each other a picture they colored or something they made with blocks. On Thursdays, she read them a bedtime story. At the end of each Zoom session Nancy would blow the children a kiss and she’d form the words “I love you” in sign language.

Several parents have sent Nancy pictures of their children holding their hands to form the words, “I love you.” In fact, all of the children in the two-year-old class know how to say “I love you” in sign language. The pictures that the parents sent are now in Nancy’s collection of “marvels.” Nancy says, “I love their curiosity. Children are amazed and excited by the little things in life and I’ve come to learn that the little things are what’s important. Often the big things go away, but the little things bring continual happiness. I’m seeing the world through the eyes of a child and that excites me. It’s the little things that excite me.”

Going Marveling: Nancy DewireNancy loves her students so much that she decided to do a memory book for them. She felt bad that the school year was shortened so she decided that she wanted to give them something to make sure they’d remember their time in their class. Every page of the book has a face of a child filled with awe, wonder and excitement. Nancy said, “We had a great year this year. We never had a bad day and no one ever cried.” Nancy told me that the kids have a song they sing as they would walk across the playground right before dismissal. The song goes like this: “We had a happy day, we had a happy day, hi ho how did you know, we had a happy day.”

I suspect we all could use a happy day. Perhaps a good place to start is by going marveling. Take some time, go for a walk, and pay attention to the beauty of God’s creation. You’ll find God’s fingerprints everywhere. You’ll see them in flowers, trees, mountains, but they’re most noticeable in the face of child. May God help each one of us to recapture that childlike sense of awe, wonder and amazement. I want to thank Nancy, Susan and the rest of our Preschool staff for their time, dedication and the love they share with their students. May God bless them. May God bless each one of you and may God bless Bethel Baptist Church.

With much love and grace,

 
Todd

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