Each Wednesday I’m recording a Curiosity Journal, a recap of the past week. Tag words are: reading, playing, learning, reacting and writing.
Some of you have mentioned that you’re keeping a Curiosity Journal, as well. Leave your link in the comments so that we can visit and enjoy your weekly review.
Luci Shaw’s Breath for the Bones includes a chapter on Paying Attention, exploring themes within that broader topic.Waiting.During dinner at family camp, someone asked if I had a new writing project in the works. Several couples were sitting around the table, and all eyes were on me, waiting for my response.”Well, I have an idea,” I began, “and I want to write it, but I…I can’t explain it, but I just don’t feel like God has given me the go-ahead. I don’t know why, but I’ve found that if I move ahead on an idea before God says ‘now,’ it’s just a bunch of wasted words. So, no. I don’t have a project in the works. I’m just waiting.”They nodded. Though they weren’t writers, they seemed to understand what it means to wait on God.Luci Shaw seems to understand, too, and shares that the Psalms are full of waiting. She cites Psalm 33:20, “Our soul waits for the LORD” and Psalm 27, “I shall always wait in patience…take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 130:6, “My soul waits for the Lord…” and Psalm 5:3, “I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”That’s where I’m at on the writing project. I’ve laid my requests before the Lord and wait in expectation.”Waiting,” Shaw observes, “seems to be an inevitable part of the human condition, an inevitable part of the creative life” (Shaw 118).I’d rather wait than rush ahead and regret the results.I may be waiting, but while I wait, I’m paying attention and taking lots of notes.Noticing.Now that I’m trying to improve my photography skills, I’m slowly beginning to notice more moments, more details.A student asked Shaw, “Don’t you get tired of noticing things?” In response, Shaw quoted Annie Dillard (from an essay written for Life magazine):
We are here to abet Creation and to witness it, to notice each thing, so each thing gets noticed…so that Creation need not play to an empty house. (Shaw 199)
I never thought of that before, the idea of bearing witness to Creation and noticing each thing…through the lens, through description, through a moment’s observation with the human eye.”We cannot take in the whole universe at once,” Shaw says, so we take it in one detail at a time:
Every day gives us new chances for small discoveries, ways to view some commonplace object from a fresh angle…to recognize what we already know but still need to learn, to detect the extraordinary in the ordinary. A move in the direction of this kind of awareness is a move toward a fresh appreciation of our richly detailed universe–the Creator’s handiwork. The prime motivation for this exercise is curiosity; the prime requisites are time and focused attentiveness. (Shaw 119-120)
Small things.My friend and colleague Claire Burge sent a link to a video called “Learn.” I watched it and wrote back, “Learn! Yes! Would love to live this big! I try, in small ways, daily…”I’d love to live and write about big events, big outings, big learning opportunities in which I learn and grow and celebrate.But my life is mostly about small, simple, daily decisions and interactions. My big…is small.In Scripture, Shaw says, small things often led to large consequences: the fruit from the tree in Eden, the dove with its olive branch, the voice calling to Samuel in the night, the widow’s oil, the widow’s mite, the coin in the fish’s mouth, a seed, a pearl, a sparrow, a hair—each hair—on your head, my head.In the depths of a person, a big story is playing out. “Never despise the power of small things, like seeds, to transform the landscape of the heart” (Shaw 122).
As Luci Shaw reminded me, every day gives me new chances for small discoveries, ways to view some commonplace object from a fresh angle…to move toward a fresh appreciation of our richly detailed universe—the Creator’s handiwork.Before leaving for work Tuesday morning, the Belgian Wonder popped in and announced that some “impressive mushroom-like fungus” was growing off the side of the mulch pile.Luci Shaw said that the prime motivation for learning to pay attention is curiosity. Who wouldn’t want to investigate some impressive fungus? (Don’t answer that; I like to imagine you would run out the door with me.)I moved in close, trying to capture the texture, form, and subtle colors of this odd colony that popped out overnight after long-awaited rain.From the Falls to fungus…all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small…it’s all part of God’s Creation, His handiwork.And I bear witness to it.
It’s more challenging to move toward “a fresh appreciation of our richly details universe—the Creator’s handiwork” when witnessing the gruesome reality of the food chain plays out in our back yard these past few weeks.Though cicada killer wasps look large enough to sting and stun Shrek, they are relatively harmless to humans. The males have no stinger at all, I’ve learned, and the female uses hers almost exclusively to paralyze cicadas to feed to their young. Rarely will she sting a human.These giant insects fly low, hovering just a few feet above the ground, swooping over, around, and into nests they’ve dug into the soil. I’ve watched one carry a cicada to the nest opening and drag it into the shadowy depths to be consumed by the larvae.We step gingerly to the garden these days, avoiding these piles of dirt that peek through the grass like land mines spread across the yard.By the way, if you’ve never seen a cicada’s shell, I happened to find one stuck to the side of our back porch.And if you’ve never seen a cicada, well, I found one of those, too.And if you’ve never heard a cicada, you can hear a recording here. Interestingly, we’ve not heard that ubiquitous, almost deafening, summer sound this year. More wasps, fewer cicadas.
So, how about that stock market?
I’ve laid my requests before the Lord and wait in expectation.Works Cited:
- Shaw, Luci. Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007. Print.
- Question mark image: “Question Proposed” photo by Ethan Lofton. Used under a Creative Commons license via Flickr.com.
- All other photos by Ann Kroeker.
Bob Gorinski says
I’m far more fascinated with small, with your images of fungus and cicadas than your link to more bad news on the stock market.
I always thought those shells look like a miniature version of something out of a science fiction movie.
Bob, thank you for your comment. I read through this again this morning, and it’s obvious I am way more fascinated with small than Wall Street, based on the space and energy given to highlighting the fungus and cicadas. Small is where I live out life, so I guess I have a lot more to say about it.
My close-up of the empty shell, when I cropped it and popped it into the post, sure does seem oversized and creepy (like something out of a science fiction moviee!).
Bradley J. Moore says
Very, very nice thoughts here, Ann. Love the quotes from Ms. Dillard…
I am toying around more with photography, too, and love how it forces you to slow down and pay attention and notice and appreciate the beauty – the shapes, colors, angles in the details. It has allowed me to look with a slow eye.
Bradley, it’s always a treat to see you here.
I’m such a beginner still, with my camera, but I love learning and experimenting. And seeing with a slow eye? Seems like a great thing to practice in a fast-paced world. 🙂
I’ve been watching a hummingbird outside the kitchen window for several days now. He (or she?) discovered the salvia I planted there in late May. Just seeing that hummingbird is more than sufficient recompense for all the work that went into it. It’s amazing what you can see if you simply stop and look.
And then’s this little yellow songbird…
I saw a yellow songbird take off yesterday–so pretty.
Your hummingbird reminds me of the glorious summer afternoon a year ago when we were staying with a friend at her retreat house tucked into the southern Indiana hills. Hummingbirds at the feeder, bold enough to hover as my camera clicked and clacked.
Simply Darlene says
Might I say that is sounds as if you are not waiting in anticipation only, but in HOPEFUL anticipation of God’s leading…
Off to see what miss Claire has been up to.
Are those mushrooms edible?
Hopeful. Yes. You are right. I am hopeful to move forward with confidence in Christ leading and guiding my steps.
Claire is always LEARNING!
As for the mushrooms…I was curious about that, as well, but couldn’t find confirmation online whether or not they were edible. They looked a bit like roasted marshmallows.
Megan Willome says
God will show you when it’s time (of course, it won’t be your idea of “time,” but that’s beside the point).
I have a cicada shell by my front door on the brick. I’ve left it alone. A tribute to the stock market? Nah. To loss. To emptiness. To moving on.
The empty shell…tribute…symbol…very thought provoking, Megan.
And thank you for the reminder of God’s time being so NOT our idea of time. You’re so wise.
Megan at SortaCrunchy says
I’ve taken an inordinate number of pictures of cicada shells through the years. They really are quite meaningful, you know. I think I even used them in a post at Simple Kids a few summers ago.
My husband is a financial advisor. His view on the stock market? Meh. It’s a good time to buy. 😉
I need to retake that particular shot. It bugs me (hee-hee) that it’s out-of-focus. I think the shell is still hanging out there on the back porch screen.
And the stock market advise? Love it! I’m passing that along right this minute to my husband. Neither of us has been worked up about it, but we’re watching and trying to learn.
Hazel I Moon says
It is good that you are taking notes now. Some thoughts on a book are often best not to be shared with the public too early. Timing is important and keep listening to His voice.
David Rupert says
Wow. I loved this post. “Noticing the little things.” That’s what we do as artists, right? Whether its the pen or pencil, the sculptor or the painter, the joy is in the little things that no one else notices
I love your quotes by Shaw. I think I need to pick up that book! This is such a great reminder for me to sloooow down and take in the details. For me, that’s often the best place of worship, in the seemingly small things.
oh the gifts he gives us in small packages… glad you found these and opened them for us. Thanks for sharing.
And, I’ve been wondering what those awful looking cicada killers are… those are scary!
We spent 4 years at IU… oh what wonderful memories we have of Bloomington. I still have dear friends there.
Ann, this post is filled with the little things that make me slow. I really enjoyed every bit of it. Your photography is excellent! I love these close-ups…reminds me to look closer at the small things, as Luci says. That quote by Annie is a keeper but I like this one too:
But my life is mostly about small, simple, daily decisions and interactions. My big…is small.
Yep. That’s me.
I just love your curiosity journal. If I ever get caught up I’m gonna jump in.