Poetry Friday: “Encounter”

When I worked in children’s ministry, I facilitated a unique, Montessori-style children’s worship experience called Young Children in Worship. At the core of the worship experience was a dedicated space for wondering. After encountering the Scriptures for the day, children were invited to ask their questions of the text. They were invited to wonder.

Wondering in our children’s worship wasn’t a Q&A session. I didn’t offer textual analysis or commentary. My job was simply to shepherd children as they asked their questions, to create space for them to ponder God’s words and God’s person. Together, we entered God’s presence and presented him with our questions. A growing spiritual relationship, not necessarily answers, was the goal.

Death prompts us to ask lots of elemental questions. Why am I here? Is any of this worth it? Is God real? Why does suffering and pain exist? When we encounter staggering grief and unexplainable loss, our natural instinct is to wonder about these things. Unfortunately, many Christians think it is wrong to ask such questions. They see these questions as a lack of faith or as the seeds of doubt. I think they don’t understand that wondering is the pathway to worship.

Years ago, Rob and I sat in church and heard these words from the pastor that day. I found them so compelling I wrote them in the back of my Bible. “A God that I can fully understand is no bigger than myself.” The only God worth believing is a God we must wonder about. The God who is big enough to bear our grief and pain invites us to ask our questions of him.

I love that today’s poem pairs wonder and sorrow. The elemental questions we ask in grief prompt us to wonder. In sorrow, this wonder can be a form of worship.


by Czeslaw Milosz, trans. Czeslaw Milosz and Lillian Vallee

We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

Wilno, 1936

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