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Being PresentHolidays

Why Pausing to Wonder Unlocks Joy

By December 3, 2015December 7th, 2020One Comment
pausing to wonder unlocks joy

I sat back and watched my granddaughter. She seemed to vibrate with barely contained wonder. Each ornament brought an “ooh” or “how pretty” or “look at this, Grandma.”

I confess I wasn’t that excited.

I stood looking at the boxes of decorations and could only think about getting this done quickly. It was that time of year – time to decorate for Christmas. Check it off the list.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. But, I don’t love decorating for Christmas. I love the decorations once they’re up; it’s the putting them up I don’t love.

But now, I paused. I looked at each ornament as I pulled it out.

  • Some brought memories of people I haven’t seen in years.
  • Others brought memories of family reunions during Christmas.
  • Still others brought memories of my own home growing up.

Memories, sweet and poignant, washed over me.

And I began to tell my granddaughter some of these stories. She listened as we looked at each ornament and carefully placed it on the tree.

“Look at this one, Grandma,” she said as she carefully studied it before hanging it in the perfect spot on the tree.

Look. Pause. Remember.


The words to the Christmas carol, I Wonder as I Wander, started to play in my mind. As the haunting melody flowed, I felt my breathing and movements slow down. No longer was I in a rush to “get it done.” Instead I began to remember in wonder. I began to look through my granddaughter’s eyes to see once again the wonder in this season of Jesus’ birth.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.

This Appalachian carol was captured by John Jacob Niles in July 1933. Niles describes it this way:

“I Wonder As I Wander grew out of three lines of music sung for me by a girl who called herself Annie Morgan. The place was Murphy, North Carolina, and the time was July, 1933. The Morgan family, revivalists all, were about to be ejected by the police, after having camped in the town square for some little time, coking, washing, hanging their wash from the Confederate monument and generally conducting themselves in such a way as to be classed a public nuisance. Preacher Morgan and his wife pled poverty; they had to hold one more meeting in order to buy enough gas to get out of town. It was then that Annie Morgan came out–a tousled, unwashed blond, and very lovely. She sang the first three lines of the verse of “I Wonder As I Wander”. At twenty-five cents a performance, I tried to get her to sing all the song. After eight tries, all of which are carefully recorded in my notes, I had only three lines of verse, a garbled fragment of melodic material–and a magnificent idea. With the writing of additional verses and the development of the original melodic material, “I Wonder As I Wander” came into being….”

My granddaughter’s joy reminded me to recapture the wonder of the season, to see the extraordinary truth of Christmas: Jesus our Savior is born! It’s time to celebrate His birthday!

As we progress through this season, that we try to fill with too many activities, will you pause with me to capture the wonder? Let me know how you will do that by leaving a comment below.

Capture the extraordinary in the ordinary moments today. Pausing to wonder unlocks joy!

  • Kirsten D Samuel

    I empower Christian wives to discover they are seen, loved, and heard. These women find the freedom to be who they are beyond their partner’s struggles, and find hope that there is a life worth living.