the sunrise over the dairy,
like a slice of almond cherry pie,
all for you.
These words appear in my mind as I run round a bend in the river valley. It’s 6:00 a.m. and a flock of swallows skims around in the morning light. Over them the vast sky opens up as my path cuts through fields of corn. I am caught up in an overwhelming sense of God’s embrace. Beloved, I know you would love a slice of almond cherry pie, but here’s this.
The scene is as daily as my bowl of granola, but somehow this morning it is pulsing with life. God is blushing in the apricot sky, hovering inside the humid river air, silent among the corn. It is Yo-Yo Ma performing to an audience of one. I feel like He is bending down and calling me his girl. The largeness of this summer morning scene has awakened me to wonder.
It may take a day-breaking sun to slam wonder into me, but for my daughter it’s a regular companion. She pedals her training wheels like the slow train, stopping in each hamlet along the way to pick up passengers. Helicopters in the maple tree are reason to dismount—pluck two so she has one to share with her brother, delighted at the fact that she is tall enough to reach, that the helicopters are free for the taking, that she can give one away.
Then it’s wild raspberries hunted from beneath soft leaves, “Acorns!!!” gathered into the bicycle basket, a bridge over the Dried Up River on which we must jump like bunny rabbits, heads of fuzzy red sumac. The drinking fountain might as well be chocolate milk as she presses the button and produces water for her thirsty mouth.
Her encounters with so many simple things are met with wide eyes and smiles, received as gifts. She may not name the Giver, but her wonder makes space for Mystery.
“Is Jesus still in our world, Mama?”
“No, He lives in heaven right now, but He also lives in our hearts.”
“Yes, I know. There is a tube from heaven to my heart,” she carefully draws her fingers through the air as though tracing a thin line, “like this. And Jesus comes through it.”
In an attempt to sweep out my own tube to heaven and make some space for God in my life, I sit down with Matthew 3, where Jesus goes to the river in the desert to be baptized. I want to bring my imagination to the verses, see them with fresh eyes, bring a bit of wonder to Scripture, perhaps.
I stand at the edge of the river, feet all dusty, heart beating wildly. Perhaps I too could tiptoe into the water, stretch out my hand toward the woolly character wanting to lead others to new life, let go enough to sink beneath and say goodbye to what keeps me bound. All sorts of people are watching, the prim and proper, the young and idealistic, the tired and cynical, the ones at the end of their rope. I wonder which group describes me.
Then there’s the young man, almost two years younger than me now, who doesn’t fit into any of these categories—not prim, not idealistic, not tired, not at the end of his rope. He is somehow warm, almost glowing, not with light but with a peace I could reach out and touch. This must be Jesus.
John kneels before Him and says, “I’m the one who needs to be baptized, not you!” But Jesus tells him to do it, that this is part of God’s story. So the wild prophet in the desert plunges the Chosen One down into the waters and as he comes up, muddy drops coursing from his beard and curls, the skies brighten. An enormous white-winged dove, feathers blowing the Breath of God, lands on Him and the voice rumbles, “This is my beloved Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life!”
This Lover God longs to make Himself known to us. He waits in the firmaments, late at night and early in the morning, hoping they will cause us to wonder and so wake up. He gifts us with the tiny treasures of the forest and the little ones who notice them, wishing that they would cause us to wonder and so believe. He speaks through the words of Scripture and the capacity of our imaginations, longing that we would read with wonder and so be transformed, and loved.
I shower with the verse swirling in my mind. Heaven suddenly jumps to. I hear God say to the angels—hurry up, get the dove, grab the light, cue the music. The shower is done. I’m washed in the river, I’m drying myself with a fluffy towel and the band is ready. Jesus gives the cue and an entourage of angels appears, surrounds their beloved girl. The dove swoops, the light shines, the music plays and they all whisper: Beloved daughter, you are chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.
Sarah Fusté writes from Berrien Springs, Michigan, where she is training for her first marathon and experiences weekly wonder at the fact that her legs can carry her so many miles.