My daughter just finished a charming book called The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs. In the story a boy is challenged to search out the Wonders in his small, seemingly-boring town. Like the boy in the story, it reminded me of how often I overlook the things that can inspire awe in the daily routines of life. But Brigit, age 9, was willing to take the novel character’s challenge. Within two days she wrote down The Seven Wonders of Brigit Brown.
Her Wonders began nine years ago with a twenty-four hour plane trip. She was born in Vietnam and had appeared in dreams for three years before her birth. I was living in Florida with my husband and young son. I flew around the world to bring her home when she was only 4 ½ months old.
Then she remembers that I met Jurgen Haver at a Writers Conference. That sounds common enough. But I was newly divorced and broke. The conference repeated things I already knew. I was confused about why I should even be there. Meanwhile, my baby girl was being taken care of by a new babysitter and she was crying in distress. I was agitated. But Jurgen was sitting in the front row at that conference and he seemed to have a glow around his head. He said he could help me with the magazine I was editing. And the rest of that story is, as they say, history.
Brigit likes the Wonder story of her dog, Bear. The big mutt belonged to a neighbor but came to visit our house everyday. One day three wild Chows came into our yard. Brigit was only 20 months old and was toddling around among the sagebrush. The wild dogs came menacingly close to her when Bear jumped into action. He chased those dogs far away and let them know they were never to come back. A few days later when Bear’s owner said he was going to kill the dog for digging up his garden to get out of his yard, Jurgen said, “I don’t think so. Bear is staying with us.”
On her Wonder list was the time we found white feathers strewn all across our barnyard. Brigit learned a big new word that day. She had raised a white rooster from the time he was in the egg. We went out that day to discover a German Shepherd near the chicken coop. He was licking his chops. The dog ran away when Brigit broke into sobs. The feathers covered every inch from the chicken coop to the hay barn. There was no sign of the rooster. But there was a bloody hen shivering in the corner of the barn. Clearly, I told Brigit, the rooster had sacrificed himself to save another bird.
Tearfully, we began our funeral routine. Then Brigit heard a strange sound coming from the horse barn. Her tough bird was peeking out and calling to her with a squeak. His voice box was damaged and lots of feathers were gone. He shook with fear. But the bird was alive.
Brigit learned the word “phoenix” that day.
We have cared for baby sparrows. Brigit gave flying lessons to a newborn Orio. She raised a hen who thinks she is a horse. The stories from our life with animals remind us that life and death are two parts of a whole. There can be redemption in both.
Brigit lists her horse as the most recent of the Wonders of her life. She has dreamed of having her own horse since she was two years old. When she befriended a pinto at the neighbor’s house, we thought that was close enough. But one day, the neighbor came over to explain, “The pinto doesn’t belong to me. She’s old. The owner isn’t paying the hay bills and now he says he’s going to send her to the dog food factory.” That’s how Brigit came to be a horse owner.
As our girl has reflected on the Wonders of Brigit, I have begun to realize that we don’t have to travel around the world to see things that are awe-inspiring and beyond simple explanations. [Miracles are God’s gift as a “taste of heaven.”] The Wonders are all around us. Sometimes they are inside of us. The Wonder of Brigit is the many ways she is blossoming into a thoughtful and kind young person.
So here’s the challenge. Can you find the Wonders of your life? When you do, repeat those stories often. Revisit the Wonders of Your Life and share them. They are the fuels to reach higher and farther. And believe…life is Wonder-filled.
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Copyright 2015 Judith Costello. This story was originally posted on Lehman’s “Front Porch” in 2009.