Our youngest grandson, River, our pandemic baby, is now over one year old. He is healthy, happy and starting to communicate. As many babies and children as I’ve been around, I am always amazed when they can begin telling you what they think and need. How can a tiny human who wasn’t even on this planet a short time ago be now telling us what he wants?
River uses a combination of words and baby sign language. My favorite baby sign is the one for hunger where you tap your belly. River is always hungry so he’s pretty much always doing the baby signs for hungry and more. Once he gets a bite in his mouth, he starts saying more.
When River is really hungry, he begins to sign harder, eventually just punching himself in the belly to let you know how hungry he is. His mom said, it is like he is yelling in sign language or using all caps: HUNGRY. I find it very funny. Of course, this Mosa is quick to feed him before he knocks the whole breath out of himself.
River’s first sentence was Oh Wow. Of all the babies I’ve raised and known I’ve never seen one start with that for a first sentence. I love it.
Those two words are filled with surprise and wonder. I’m sure for him it is just easy to say and, apparently, he must be surrounded by a few people who say it often. I hope I am one of them.
Wonder, surprise, and being attentive are spiritual disciplines. Noticing what is amazing and new in this life connects us to God, especially when it is combined with gratitude.
The very first article I ever wrote was about being attentive. It surprised me because it ended up being published in the Dallas Morning News religion section when they had one and then it ran in a local paper and led to a newspaper column I used to write called Real Life. That column ran for years in local papers owned by the Fort Worth Star Telegram. When it looked like my husband was going to become a school superintendent here, I decided maybe I should be quiet and stopped doing that.
I couldn’t stay quiet for long, of course, and now I write this blog. I find it interesting after all this time I’m still writing about paying attention and wonder. I think I keep trying to remind myself of how important it is to move slowly enough to notice how incredible this life is.
Theologian Richard Rohr writes, a sense of wonder and awe is the foundation of religion. Valarie Kaur, a human rights lawyer, says it like this, wonder is our birthright. It comes easily in childhood–the feeling of watching dancing sunlight, or climbing a tree to touch the sky, or falling asleep thinking about where the universe ends. If we are safe and nurtured enough to develop our capacity to wonder, we start to wonder about the people in our lives too….If you remember how to wonder, then you already have what you need to learn how to love. (Devotional from August 13, 2020 The Center for Action and Contemplation)
River isn’t thinking about any of those things yet when he says, Oh Wow. Someday he will.
To me, Oh Wow is a perfect first sentence. For that matter, it is a perfect last sentence too, right? And, most amazingly, it will work just beautifully every single day in between.
Thanks be to God, oh wow! Amen
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. Go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com to see where she is speaking next, to read more blogs or to sign up for a monthly email through her Inner Circle.