Merriam-Webster defines wonder as “a cause of astonishment; to feel curiosity or doubt, rapt attention or astonishment, at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience.” My curiosity about wonder uncovered synonyms like: marvel, phenomenon, caution.
What’s the big deal about this six-letter word that triggers a question mark?
If you’ve read my recent blogs, a saga of pain has been the dominant – and very tiresome – feature. Sometime during this season one of my OWLS friends (a small group of wise and curious women) asked me, wondering – ‘where was I was finding the strength to keep going’? I wondered about that too and compiled a list. Journalling; connecting with friends in person (regardless how I felt); adjusting physical expectations; experimenting (marijuana gummy bears did NOT do a thing for me); praying (sometimes ranting); facing fear head on; coming to terms with no shame in taking pain killers.
Taking one day at a time.
Then in the middle of May I had a definite turnaround.
It started when I bumped into a friend outside a local market who asked me if I was going to an upcoming women’s event at a nearby church.
I told her, “I haven’t really thought about it and don’t have a ticket.”
My faith and God are integral to my life: a childhood inheritance that I’m grateful for which has remained my Rock. In my present season of life I’m more of a one-on-one, or small-circle-of-people kind of person; yet when I checked the event online I thought “I’d like to go to this!”
About sixty women were there – on pre-registration we were assigned to a specific table of seven or eight women. I knew two of the ladies at mine; it was a friendly, comfortable fit, chatting before the event started.
The event advertised, ‘the season of singing has come’, and that’s how the day began. A tonic for my soul; there’s just something about singing, joining voices with other women. After a brief introduction, the guest speaker shared encouraging family life-changing stories including her own physical healing. Then she posed this question: ” when you came here today what were you hoping to discover or take home with you?” Several women audibly answered the question – myself included; as I had thought about this, being open to receive something, to ‘feel better’.
As the speaker walked amongst the tables it was like she was listening, sensing what was happening in the room; she stopped at our table to pray for one of the women, and also did so for my pain, including a few words about ‘not holding rebellion and resistance‘. I thought at the time, “how curious!”. From life experience I have learned to assess messages and directives that others give me; and as I pondered this part of the prayer later at home, though I wasn’t certain just what it meant, its spirit and intent resonated as being right for me.
The morning session was followed by lunch and conversation around the table: followed by more music, and a short wrap-up session to finish as per scheduled (something I appreciate). I left the gathering with a spirit of contentment and gratitude for what I’d shared and experienced.
Two days later, a Monday morning email announced the re-opening of a small cafe on the Atlantic shoreline not far from our home. I’d missed this charming, homey spot; and wanting to support it again from the get-go, I drove there for an afternoon cup of tea to celebrate with them. Sitting at one of the three occupied tables in this one-room house-cafe, it was difficult not to catch the thread of other conversations. My antennae picked up phrases from the three women and a gentleman across the room i.e. keep trusting God to help you, don’t give up hope that He is with you in difficult times.’
I said to myself, “God, I am wondering if this is a bit weird … or is there something cool happening here?”
Attentive to reading my book and enjoying tea, the foursome stopped at my table on their departure, asking if I was enjoying what I was reading.
“It’s a great book”, I responded, ” A Trip Around the Sun by Mark Batterson and Richard Foth, two pastors who mentor and challenge each other to turn everyday life into the adventures of a lifetime. “On another note,” I said, “I wasn’t meaning to eavesdrop, but I couldn’t help but hear your conversation about God helping us, to keep trusting Him through our difficulties. That especially resonated with me as I’ve been suffering with physical pain for a few months.”
As vulnerable as this sounds here on the page, it didn’t feel odd at all though I’d never seen these people before.
The gentleman bent down his large frame and looked at me, “I’m Nick, would you like me to pray for you?” Now I thought for sure, this is not weird but something cool.
This could have been really uncomfortable – people lean over and chat eye-to-eye all the time but typically not with strangers – but this felt right. With no hesitation on my part, ” thanks, Nick, that would be great. I’m Karen, and I believe in prayer.”
He confirmed, “you’re okay with me praying for you?” before gently placing a hand on my arm and quietly asking God to help me in my need for healing. It was short – I don’t remember the words, but I won’t forget the spirit and impact of this brief meeting.
Nick and his wife gave me encouraging smiles and left the cafe.
Tea-time was over. Before leaving, the other two women introduced themselves; Jean Ann lives in the area and I’ve since discovered she radiates Life to whomever she meets.
Later that same week – after months of trying a myriad of modalities – I discovered a physiotherapist whose expertise and exercise recommendations proved to be physical game-changers for me.
I wonder about it all; the months of suffering and searching, the see-saw of surrendering and despairing. The strength restored and spirit renewed.
And particularly, the timing. My physical turnaround made it possible to travel to Alberta to visit family and attend a brother’s memorial service. And to later join friends for a physical-activity-filled week to Newfoundland (catch that story next – almost ready to post) ): a wish I’ve had since we moved to the Maritimes.
I live with the mystery, the wonder of all this: with gratitude to God and the people who ministered help and hope. Aware that the flow of life is uncertain: each day is a gift.
With love for hope and courage – for wherever you are in the ebb of life.