Child of Wonder

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“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:26

It had been many years since the woman had seen the photograph. There she was, standing next to her brother in Chincoteague Bay, each holding a live conch in their clutches and grinning that buoyant smile that can only come from a kid who triumphantly feels full of themselves.   She smiled.  Her mind returned to a memory of long ago. Her heart was at peace then…it was a wondrous time when the faith of a child is so pure – so unencumbered by the disappointments of life.  It was a time in her life when she was so very close to Him and His wonderful world.

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The girl of 10 years sat on the picnic bench staring into the inky sky.  All the families were asleep now and she could hear her father softly snoring as he lay on his old army cot next to her mother in the 6-man tent nearby.  The smell of the dying camp fire mixed with the odor of canvas, bug spray and the remnants of grilled chicken dinner.  It made her nose tickle unpleasantly.  It was late August; she had waited the whole year for this.  Tomorrow they would go to the tip of Assateague Island along the Maryland Eastern shore. It was her favourite place in the world to spend time.

The child could not sleep.  She knew she should crawl back into her own sleeping bag, but she was too excited….and she reveled in the alone time spent with the stars.  Finally, there was no noise in a camp full of brothers and sisters, friends and extended family.  It was just the girl and her thoughts – and the heavenly orbs above her head.  She sighed happily as she searched for her old friends the little Dipper and Orion’s belt.  Out there in the dark night skies of Chincoteague Island, it was so much easier to see them and all their companions too.  She tried to remember the constellations she had learned on her school field trip to the planetarium last year.  Never mind, she thought.  I am just happy to see them again.

She sat under the heavy dark skies and watched as the moon peaked up over the pine trees near the camp.  It was these moments when she felt closest to God. There were no complicated rules and regulations here; she just couldn’t believe in the angry God she heard about on Sunday mornings at church.  To the girl, this is where she found God… He was the one who created all the riotous lights in the sky.  That is why she loved coming here each summer.  It was here she finally felt a level of reality to see an unseen God.

The evening passed too quickly when her ever-vigilant mother awoke and called out to her…

“Honey, where are you?”  The girl heard the heavy zipper of the tent opening and her mother was there.

“What are you doing?” her mother asked.

“Just counting stars, Mom,” the girl answered.

“Well come back to bed, it is late and you shouldn’t be sitting out here alone.”

The girl reluctantly stood and pitter-pattered over to the tent threshold, only stopping to brush off the wispy pine needles that had stuck to her feet.  Tomorrow, she thought.  We will be there tomorrow! And that satisfied her with the thought that she would be at the island in a matter of hours.

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She awoke to the smell of bacon.  Her father was up early and cooking – the man was a wonder.  He could cook eggs, grits, bacon, coffee and toast – all on a two-burner camping stove.  Her stomach growled.  Was it anticipation or hunger?  She decided it was the latter and leapt out of bed to do her camp chores so that she could eat a hearty breakfast.  In her family, those who didn’t work didn’t eat – and so she hurried through her duties.

It was near 8:30 am when the old green Ford Bronco was finally packed with all the necessities and people ready to go.  Going to the tip of the island was a day-long excursion and a long, bumpy drive over miles of sand along the narrow strip of seashore.  She had at least an hour or more of experiencing “fanny fatigue” ahead of her. Her siblings had already secured the most comfortable seats in the cramped vehicle.  As the youngest and the smallest in the family, it allowed her to sit on a towel on the floor between her parent’s front seats. The floor was hot and hard, and uncomfortable.  Never mind, she thought – I get the better view anyway.

The multi-vehicle caravan of friends and family finally left the camp site, a jumble of people, fishing poles, beach tents, picnic coolers, towels and suntan lotion.  What a cacophony they presented.

Assateague Island is wild.  The dueling winds and water from the Atlantic Ocean and Chincoteague Bay held it captive in its clutches. The island is a place of old lighthouses and watch towers, scrub brush and tiny Sika deer; of wild ponies, blue crabs and every kind of sea bird imaginable.  Each summer it seemed the island had been recreated; having been scoured by a year of tides and storms.  The girl adored it. There were new tidal pools to explore, unfound bird’s nests, wild flowers, conch shells and if she was really lucky, she would spy a shy wild pony.

Last summer she spent most her time on the bay side.   There had been a bumper crop of clams that year and she and her siblings spent every low tide ankle-deep in the brown silt of the bay bottom.  Digging into the cool muck with her toes, she would feel her way to edible buried treasure.   Once found, the girl would delightfully reach in to the low murky water and dig it out with a sense of great accomplishment.  Ah yes, God provided delicious dinners those nights.

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As the bumping Bronco finally came to a halt at the farthest reach of the island, the girl could not wait to tumble out of her cramped confines.

Her eyes took in the uproarious ocean as it formed a channel butting up against the bay.  Yet the bay was smooth and running deep, its ripples barely discernible. Sprinting to the edge of it, the girl waded in cautiously and then “Oops,” suddenly found herself in water way over her head.  She was not three-feet from shore!  Wow, she wondered – what happened here?  Usually the shore runs long and wide, taking several hundred yards to find that kind of deep.

Her father, who had been watching, hurried over to check on his daughter.  No matter, she was a good swimmer.

“Dad, look at this,” she called as she treaded water.  “It is like a lake.  See how deep it is?”

The girl swam to the shore and dragged herself out. “What do you think happened?” she asked him.

“Well, there was a hurricane just a few weeks ago, I suspect the storm cut right into the bank and caused this trough.  Should make for some good fishing – though no clams this season!” he remarked.

The girl’s big green eyes danced with anticipation as she took in all the changes of the island’s topography.  She decided that she would explore the inner island soon, to see if it had changed as well. In the meantime she excitedly dove back into the warm, bluish water once more.

It was hours later after swimming, fishing for flounder and making drip sand castles that she finally went exploring.  She sought out a well-known dune near a watch-tower that had stoically stood there since the 1930s.  She thought she might catch the Sika deer there as it was in the brushy habitat they loved.  As she wandered over the hot and sometimes prickly sand, the huge headed black flies that often arrive with the end of summer started swarming.  “Ouch!” she said out loud as she swatted them off her tender over-sunned legs.  At that moment she heard a snort, and she stopped suddenly.  She felt a twinge of fear, as she was just one small girl and hoped there was no one out there with her who might cause her any trouble.  She was almost to the top of the dune, so she dropped to her knees and squatted where she was.  Rising up slowly just enough to peer over the dune, she caught her breath.  There in front of her was the reason for the sound.  A chocolate-coloured mare and her brown and white pony nibbled at the tender grasses at the edge of scrub.

The girl’s heart raced with delight.  In all the years she had been coming to Assateague Island, she had never found the wild horses on her own.  She lowered herself to the dune, laying on prickles and all and silently watched the two animals.   She stayed downwind of them so they did not smell her presence.  They were exquisite.  She could see the sun glint in the pony’s brown eyes and turn them into orbs of gold. The mother stayed close to her child, every now and again nuzzling and neighing as if to say “I am here, stay close.”

The girl watched them many minutes.  The intimate experience moved her to tears and she silently thanked God for the opportunity to see the gentle animals so close.  Still hidden, the changing wind betrayed her and suddenly the mare lifted her nose and sniffed the air.  She abruptly took off with her foal in tow.  The girl startled as well but then sighed with delight as the two horses sped down the beach. Rolling over onto her back she now stared into the deepening blue sky. She wanted to lay there forever but noticed the sun was lowering. She had to get back.

As she wandered the beach to the meet up with her family, she noticed that the tide was coming in and begin to block her path.   She knew from experience how dangerous a rising tide could be, and though she was riveted with the movement of the swift water, she knew it could easily take her with it.   She must hurry now so that the everyone could load up and get moving before the tide covered the skinny tip of the island.

The day was almost done as the small caravan of sun seekers and explorers wound their way back to the mainland.  This time perched in the back seat of the bouncing vehicle, the girl watched the sun as it dropped into the horizon like a lemon drop fizzing into soda water.

Finally at camp, the group needed to move fast to get the fire pit going, prepare dinner and get showers in the outdoor stalls before night fell and it was too dark to see.  Dinner was a delicious meal of fresh flounder caught in the bay that day.  God’s gift from the sea and grilled expertly by one of the moms with lemon juice, salt and a bit of cilantro, it was a wonderful way to end her Assateague homecoming.  The girl went to bed easily that night, and as she breathed in the faint smell of pine and drifted off to sleep … her last thought of the day was to wonder if the island was anything like heaven…and the 10-year old explorer was asleep with a smile.

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The woman had fallen asleep and awoke with a start.  The room was dark now, and she went to rub her eye and poked herself with a piece of paper.  “Ugh!” she grunted.  “What the?”

Then it all came back to her – she reached over and turned on the lamp and saw the object of her injury.  It was the photo of her and her brother.  She giggled to herself.  So it wasn’t a dream she had been having now.  It was a long -ago memory.  Life was different then she ruminated – when she was a child of wonder. She felt a whisper of familiarity in her heart – and then mentally pushed it off.

The woman rose creakily to let the dog out.  The night air was crisp and the dog didn’t want to stir.

“Out you go old lady,” her owner said softly.  “I know your skinny bones don’t like it.  Here, I will suffer with you and stand here and wait for you….” she said to the 10-year old boxer.

As the woman stepped out on the back deck, she looked up.  There were diamonds hanging in the heavens – she breathed in the cool air and peered into the dark blue winter sky above her.  She saw old friends –the Big Dipper and the North Star….and she automatically began looking for the other constellations she knew…

As she stood there in the moment, her past memories collided with the present and she became emotional at the glory and beauty of the God’s creation.  She felt Him near to her again…she had been pushing Him away for so long…

Quietly she bowed her head and prayed softly to Him who was always watching her…

“Thank you God that as the child I was, I have found you again… please don’t ever let me lose my desire and wonder of you…” and as she and her boxer turned to retreat from the cold, she felt 10-years old again.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”  Psalm 19:1-4

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:2-5

 

 

About setyourpathsstraight

It is my desire to serve God and others through writing; by proclaiming His goodness, provision and character in story form. Though I was not always a follower of Jesus Christ, I have experienced life changes that can only be a result of personally meeting Him. He is not a God of religion, but of relationship. I don't have the answers to life's challenges, but I know where to find them...only in God's Word can any of us stop following crooked paths. The month of my spiritual birthday, I read Proverbs 3:5-6 and claimed it as my life verse... "Trust in the Lord in all you do, lean not on your own understanding In all your ways acknowledge Him.... and He will Set Your Paths Straight." Thank you for your visit today. Please come back again.
This entry was posted in A CLICK A BLESSING TODAY, CHRISTIAN FAMILY FUN AND HERITAGE, FAITH CHILD and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Child of Wonder

  1. Pingback: Child Of Wonder | set your paths straight

  2. ptl2010 says:

    Welcome Setyourpathsstraight, to ChristianBlessings on this your first blog posting here. Please enjoy blogging and posting with the Lord’s help, as we look forward to fresh perspectives of life as you live it out and tell in story form.

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