An Invitation to Wonder



a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

We put up our Christmas tree last night. Within an hour and a half the room was transformed from chaotic and bland to sparkling brilliance. The ornaments reflect the white lights and the result is lovely.

Early this morning, sleepy-eyed and still in my pajamas, I went straight to the tree and plugged in the lights. Immediately, beauty filled the room inviting me to stop, inviting me to wonder.

Just a day before I began reading my friend Laura’s book of poetry called Give me the Word. It’s a slim volume, packed with beauty and depth. The first poem in the book made me pause and breathe slower, breathe easier.

“We have always been waiting, and not knowing, longing with tears for the One Who Comes.”

Through the pages of Laura’s book I received an invitation to stop and wonder, an invitation to wait expectantly.

Marketing all around me calls insistently, telling me that I won’t be complete unless I purchase this, buy that; convincing me that real love is things, that the way to show I care is by spending money.  But in a moment, words on a page and twinkling white lights invite me to more. They invite me to wonder.

Long ago on a rooftop in Pakistan, my mom had an invitation to wonder. She felt alone and forgotten, miles from family and friends. That night she experienced wonder through unexpected visitors. In the midst of the Sindh desert in Pakistan our friends arrived and sang carols at our door, their presence an offering of love. It was the wonder of friendship that went the extra mile, offering friendship and joy.  Every year I stop and remember this story, for it too is an invitation to wonder.

If we stop for a moment, we realize that all around us are invitations to wonder. 

In all this, I am reminded of words I wrote a couple of years ago, when reflecting on my favorite Christmas story: Christmas is not magic that can quickly disappear. Instead it’s wonder. It’s the wonder of the incarnation; it’s the wonder of God’s love; it’s the wonder of angels heard from rooftops.

I’m From….

I’m From…by Robynn and Adelaide


Adelaide is a sophomore in high school. She’s in grade 10. The Language Arts teacher wanted them to write a poem introducing themselves to her and to the class. It was a simple assignment. Five short stanzas. Two lines each. Begin each stanza with, “I’m from…”. Apparently the teacher’s included lines like, “I’m from the yellow kitchen, blue popsicles and red posies. I’m from the white house, the fenced yard, the barking beagle”.

It’s a good assignment.


Unless where you’re from is convoluted. Unless you’ve inherited some confusion on that particular subject. Unless it’s too long of a story to be captured neatly in five short stanzas.

And then it’s not such a great assignment.

Adelaide cranked out a rough draft. The teacher read it over Adelaide’s shoulder. She cautioned her on being too vague. It wasn’t specific enough. It didn’t describe where Adelaide was from. She should give it another go.

Over the weekend, sprawled on her bedroom floor, Adelaide read her first draft out loud. I loved it. Tears sprang to my eyes. My young daughter had captured the ambiguities of a globally scattered childhood succinctly. She discerned her own angst. She understood mine too.

We talked about what she should do. I didn’t want her to make any changes and yet she needed to meet her teacher’s expectations. Eventually she tweaked it some. But it was her original first draft that I connected with.

   I’m from the wide airplane wings

                                Swooping me up and setting me down.

                I’m from the navy blue passport

                                Filled with endless destinations.

                I’m from the suitcases not always full

                                Yet always tucked away in the corner.

                I’m from the experiences, the people, the places

                                From North America to Europe to Asia.

                I’m from never knowing where I’m from

                                       But always feeling at home.


Now it’s your  turn – using the same format, where are you from? And many thanks to the beautiful Adelaide for starting the conversation.

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Picture Credit:  and word art by Mgardner

Related posts:

When you Realize you can Love Two Places – and not be Disloyal

Transition: Building a RAFT

Honor the Grief, Honor the Goodbye

Defying the Pain Scale

The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
― Fyodor DostoyevskyCrime and Punishment

Pain. All of us have experienced it to varying degrees. In recent years pain has been identified as the fifth vital sign – the first four being blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate and temperature.  And thankfully we have come to recognize how critically important it is to know how to assess pain.

In western medicine we have something called a “Pain Scale”.  This scale was developed as a tool to help assess pain in patients – whether it be after surgical procedures, during emergencies, and in illness in general. Beyond the verbal assessment where a nurse or medical doctor asks the patient questions like “Are you in pain? Can you tell me where it hurts? Is it a sharp or a dull pain?”  the scale adds a numeric instrument to assess severity:  “On a scale from 1 to 10, can you tell me how severe the pain is?” 10 would be the absolute worst pain that you have ever experienced and 1 would be minimal to no discomfort. The rationale behind this scale is to have a reference point understood by both clinical staff and patient.

To a point this scale is a good, all be it culturally biased, measure.  Because we all have different levels of pain tolerance, it is helpful when the clinician is trying to make sure that the patient is comfortable and has proper pain relief.

But there is some pain that defies the pain scale. Some pain that is so far beyond a scale that using numbers seems ludicrous. Pain that goes beyond the physical and involves the emotions, the soul.

I have a friend whose pain defies the pain scale, whose heart is broken into a million pieces. She is betrayed and wounded and her soul knows pain. Those million pieces are each like jagged shards of glass that keep on wounding over and over. Beyond the pain is the grief…grief for what was, what will never be again; trust and comfort lost and replaced by a false and poor substitute. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t mend her heart. Her pain defies the pain scale and her grief defies the grief scale. Her symptoms include frequent swallowing and an empty feeling, she sits down to a meal and though she is hungry, she can’t eat. She sits vacantly at her desk, unable to function. She  has soul tears that are so deep she can’t cry. It makes the scale a laughable, fallible tool with a limited use.

What do we do when our pain defies the scale, defies our human understanding. C.S. Lewis in his beautiful book, “A Grief Observed” tries to get a better grasp of these emotions. Although it is about grief, it resonates on pain as well.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” he says at one point. “I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times  it feels like being mildly drunk or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says.” and then “You can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears.”

Defying the pain scale is nothing new. The Psalmist David had pain and grief that defied any scale. Job had pain and grief that defied any scale. And surely Mary, as she watched her precious son on the road to Golgotha, surely this was pain and grief like no other.

So I take hope – for when our pain defies the scale, this is when God Himself steps in with his comfort and love. A comfort and love that are stronger than any man-made and laboratory-developed  pain relief; a love of the sort that defies any cliché; a love so strong and a comfort so deep that this alone can speak to the pain that defies a scale.

“But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.” CS Lewis A Grief Observed