Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Presence of Wonder

"Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder." -- EB White

On the first day of the Slice of Life Challenge, there is one side of me that nervously dreads what lies ahead. 31 consecutive days of writing.  What am I thinking?  I am a high school principal for heavens sake.  In a huge testing month.  The Ohio Graduation Test (OGT).  PARCC.  OGT and PARCC the same week.  Why would I ever consider writing for 31 days?  I can hear the little voice (or is it shouting) in my head.

The other side? I am so excited.  This is my second year of the Slice of Life Challenge and I was introduced (insert encouraged, prodded) by my National Writing Project and ELL Teacher daughter Jennifer.  She is an amazing educator and writer and last year I enjoyed reading all of the wonderful, even stunning entries. This year I even have a plan to guide my entries. I heard Penny Kittle speak at last year's Dublin (OH) Literacy Conference and she said that readers and writers have plans.  So this year I have collected quotes over the last several months that speak to my heart.  I hope and plan to base my entries on a selected quote each day.

And so it begins-- 

As an educator today, especially in this busy three weeks of state-mandated testing that affects the high school graduation of our freshmen and sophomores, it would be easy to lose perspective on testing and life.  I see the stress in the eyes of our students, our parents, and our staff.  I feel their frustration of what appears to be ending instruction and devoting what will be for us 10 days of assessment in 11 school days.   Is education about producing good test takers or good people? I hear and feel this question in my heart.

And so, where is the presence of wonder that EB White wrote in the above quote?  

This morning as I worked on my staff blog post with the week's events, I plodded across our kitchen with two overflowing baskets of laundry and a motion caught my eye at our suet feeder hanging next to our sliding glass door.  And then-- a flash of red.  Oh my goodness, my mind flinched,  could it be?

Yes.  I whispered loudly to my husband as to not disturb this presence of wonder.  "Come see, it's a flicker."

And just like that, we two busy adults stood mesmerized by this beautiful black and white speckled bird with a long black beak and red crown, whispering so as not to disturb the reverie produced by this unexpected visitor to our home.

Testing?  What testing?  Stress?  What stress?  For at least three minutes we watched it flitter from one square on the suet feeder to another.  Even better?  Its long beak pounded into the frozen cake and we could hear the muted rat-a-tat-tat over and over.

A wonder of nature made our day, and the excitement of this scarlet-crested backyard visitor will stay with us as the events of the day and week start piling up like the laundry in a basket.

But for a few special moments we looked out through our glass door at the wondrous presence of nature-- and that made all the difference in our day.


  1. This is beautifully written. You capture those precious moments of wonder perfectly.

    1. Thank you, Amanda. I appreciate your input.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for replying, Jessie. I appreciate it very much.

  3. I love that you have a plan and that your plan involves quotes! :-) And I love how vividly you described this little moment of wonder! Glad you decided to do the challenge again this year!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I appreciate your feedback and that you like my plan. I am hoping it works. :) I am happy to do the challenge with you this year. I feel like it connects us in a different way. :)

  4. I love your line: "And just like that, we two busy adults stood mesmerized ...whispering so as not to disturb the reverie"
    Nice tie in with wonder and thank you for sharing the idea of using memorable quotes as springboards.


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