(Photo Source)

The seminary’s married housing sprawled in a series of low brick buildings
some five miles from campus.  There the
newly married, newly empty-nested and a few brave families with young children
resided in dilapidated cinder-block two-story apartments. 

My husband and I cohabitated quietly in our first floor
apartment with a school of saltwater fish, a frog and a cat.  Although our closest neighbor had two
children and a couple upstairs added a baby before graduation, the sight and sound
of children in the building was relatively rare.

This wasn’t the case however in the open courtyard and
parking lots behind the buildings where children roved about in loud, unruly
gangs.  A playground stood somewhere
back there, one we never visited and kids seemed, to my uninitiated young ears,
to be screaming there all. day. long. 

As a student, I frequently stayed up all hours of the night reading
hundreds of pages of theology or writing and studying for exams.  In the afternoon I rode the campus bus home
and slipped into our quiet bedroom with its big window and filmy yellow

There I lay down for a
nap.  The cat tucked in quietly beside

Beneath that window, though, was a small alcove in the
building’s design.  Children gathered there in the otherwise quiet afternoons like mice in a sewer drain.  Squeaking, shouting, squealing.  I had yet to learn the ability to sleep
anytime anywhere.  I didn’t yet know how to
make myself sleep on command, how to tune out noise and distraction with the flick of an internal switch.

It made me furious. 
The noise.  The indignity.  The gall of all those children, gathering
beneath my window, running through my front yard, taking up space, making noise
while I devoted my life to the steady, demanding work of thinking. 


A great sweeping oak tree grew in the front yard of
our building.  Its branches hung down
low.  One evening, studying after dinner
with my books and papers sprawled on the table around me, I looked out our
sliding glass door and saw a boy.  He was about seven or eight, the age of my oldest
boy now.  Framed by the glass door, I
watched him hang and swing, tugging on the old tree’s branches.  Another boy stood watching the first.

Whatever he was doing, it looked destructive.  In a fit
of righteous rage I slid the glass door open and let loose a forceful, 


The boy froze and looked at me, the branch still in

“What are you doing?” I demanded.

Still frozen, the boy replied, “I don’t know.”

“Are you trying to break that branch?” I asked, each word an

“Uh, I guess.” The boy stared at me with eyes like
saucers.  His friend stared too at this
seminarian standing back lit by her own apartment as evening fell. 

I was Wild and Fierce, Protector of Trees, Interrogator of Little Boys. 

“Then, cut it out!” I shouted, slamming the door shut.

The boys took off running. 

My husband and I exchanged a look.  Yes, he saw and heard it all.  

I’m sure I attempted to justify my outburst.  But later, we laughed.

We laughed at the boy’s look, at his sudden surprise.  Laughed at the way I must have looked, the
way I did look and sound.  We repeated
the scene over and over again between ourselves, the script of one of the
funniest episodes we’d witnessed in a long time. 

Kids will do that to you.  I know that now.  

They get under your skin, pull and yank at your
lower branches, until something in you breaks.  They tug you into the rough
and tumble world of parking lot clubs that meet beneath open windows and oak tree branches
strong enough to swing on.  Then, resting in bed on a sunny afternoon while your four-year-old twins rumble and tumble downstairs, as you try
to distinguish between their cries and squeals of delight and the ones coming
from the daycare next door, then you will remember the boys and the tree and the things you said.  

And you will smile and laugh all over again.    

*   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That’s my proposal – that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You’re invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don’t worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right – you’re welcome to come as you are.  

While you’re here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  


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