By Clare Boyd-Macrae
13 January 2022
My 15-month-old granddaughter talks a lot. Most of it isn’t in any recognisable language, although we often get the drift. She does have a few intelligible words and phrases though: the “Uh-oh” that littlies seem to pick up early, “Hi” and “Bye”, accompanied by a cheery wave, a long drawn out “Helllllooooo” with a tone that goes up and down and up again.
My favourite of her expressions, however, is “Oh, wow!”
The two words are inevitably said together, breathed out in a tone of wonder and holy awe. The first time she saw the beach with its ocean, stretching out all golden and blue and dazzling, indeed every time she saw the beach over our summer holiday: “Oh, wow!” In the morning, when she came into our bedroom on her grandfather’s hip, as he ferried in my first cup of tea, opening the curtains to gum trees and sky: “Oh, wow!”
Through her eyes, I reperceive this world and all its glory and surprise. I have started prompting myself to say “Oh, wow!”, if only in my head, at my first sight of the waves, on waking in the morning to another day of life and love and beauty, at each provision of good food that graces my table three times a day, at every gathering of loved ones.
Jesus understood that we can learn from the littlest and the least. In Mark 10:15, he is quoted as saying, “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it”.
I like to think I can see something of what he meant when I accompany little Bonnie through her life, attempting to view the world as she does. I hope she never stops reacting with “Oh, wow!” to wonders both natural and human. To the glory of sunset, beach and forest, to the warmth of meeting around an open fire with family.
I also hope she learns to say, “Oh wow!” to the injustices of the world as she grows older and encounters them. “Oh wow!” to our leaders’ short sightedness about the climate crisis, to our treatment of refugees, about the fact that so much of the world has precious little clean water, about the gap in life expectancy and incarceration between the First and Second Peoples of this land.
“Oh, wow!” – an appropriate response to all manner of what life dishes up.
I heard tell of a new worshipper who, when handed the communion bread with the familiar and beloved words, “This is the body of Christ, broken for you,” gave the unorthodox but perfectly appropriate response, “Wow!”
Christians are not spared any kind of human suffering, but we do have cause for wonder and rejoicing. Through all the insecurities and failings, the stumblings and disappointments that are our lot, we know we are loved by the Creator of the Universe and can be part of that loving Creator’s great endeavour. “Oh wow!” indeed.