I have always admired my Aunt's sense of adventure and her love of God’s world. As a child, I delighted in how she would come down to my kid-level to show me the uniqueness of a plant or examine the markings of a butterfly. When we went out adventuring, she poured out information on all the wonders of plants and wildlife. From my childhood, she helped me to marvel at the intricacies of God’s world.
Later, when I had young children of my own, my Aunt led our church group on a nature hike to learn about wildlife. She taught my own children to wonder about the greatness of God through the unique structure of every leaf. We delighted to see her marvel at what looked to me like a weed. She saw God’s fingerprint in everything and pointed others to see the grand designer who had fashioned all around her with unique plan and purpose. As we ended our nature tour, she read scripture to us, showing us how the heavens declare the glory of God and how all creation draws us to marvel at our Creator.
Another day, my Aunt came to visit and I greeted her in my driveway. My yard was littered with leaves in need of raking, but to her they were not a mess. She picked up one of the leaves, identified its name, and held it in admiration. She turned it over carefully, considering its beauty. What to me was a mess waiting to be cleaned up was to my Aunt a bounty of hand-crafted beauty from my Creative Father. Now as I see those leaves from year to year, I still sometimes pick one up and again marvel at the loving God who was so creative in his design process.
Today, Alzheimer’s disease is stealing away my Aunt’s memories and her ability to interact with others. There are days when she no longer recognizes even her husband. Yet, even as she has lost so much, I still see her fascination with the wonders of God’s creation. She still delights in a butterfly flitting over a bush or a squirrel scavenging food under park benches. She gathers shells along the beach, and while no longer able to identify their names or speak of the uniqueness of their design, she still delights in their beauty. She remains so tuned into the beauty of God’s creation that she can’t help but marvel.
I watched my aunt on the beach crouching down next to a young child, and it struck me that in many ways their cognitive functioning is not so different. But my aunt still has much to offer. As she shares her handful of shells, she continues pointing out the wonder of God’s creation for others to see. Her imbedded habits of slowing down to marvel continue to bless others. She sees with the eyes of the psalmist who considers all of the beauty of creation and exclaims, “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
I am thankful for the gift my aunt gave me, teaching me to marvel at the creativity of the Heavenly Father who spoke all this beauty into being.
How can you encourage marveling?
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra