Living Arts Weekly: At the Intersection of Wisdom and Wonder

October 8, 2023

Young children view the world with eyes full of wonder. Our grandchildren experienced a phase in language development when “wow” was high on a short list of spoken words.

As we age and develop, we may start to see the world with eyes that judge and analyze. Wonder can fall away as we grow ever so serious attempting to arrive at the right answer and avoid mistakes. Our thinking may become deadened by opinions and foregone conclusions.

When we enter the wisdom years, we may have enough life experience to know that seeing the world with eyes of wonder opens the door to clear vision and understanding. It enlivens our thinking to seek knowledge from direct observation. Living thinking is how we continue to grow, learn, and evolve.

That’s one of the many reasons grandparents love to spend time with their grandchildren. Children remind us of the wonders of the world and reawaken our playful, joyful, fun-loving spirits. This is how we stay young and vital!

I did not know about this intersection of wisdom and wonder until I became a grandma. Although well-acquainted with the early childhood years as an educator and founder of the Rose Garden Early Childhood Center, I did not yet know what the wisdom years would bring.

When I spend time with my grandchildren, I learn so much. Some of the knowledge I have gained became wisdom through the experience of applying it.

From the beginning, I learned that when we give the grandchildren what they need to develop, we are also well-served. Nurturing care for the young child is also nurturing care for us. We are in the time of life when we are no longer planting and weeding our gardens but are harvesting what we have sown. Like the Autumn season, the days we have ahead of us are shorter than the ones behind us.

The rhythms of our days with the grandchildren are structured around eating, napping, and playing. This provides a healthy balance of in-breath and out-breath for both young and old. Letting go of the thought that we have more important things to do, we embrace being in the present.Time expands.

I look forward to the flow of our days, in particular the after-lunch nap time when our energy tank is refilled.

That said, rhythms are good for both our physical bodies and energy reserves. Not only because a nap is involved, but because once the children know the rhythms, they become habits which are followed with ease. When everyone knows how the day goes, it creates a sense of security.  It takes less energy to follow familiar rhythms than to create each day anew.

When we are with the grandchildren, we have time to play, go for walks in the park, and admire everything we encounter along the way. We enter the present moment, the world of wonder, and wow. In that place, our senses and souls are nourished.

Who knew that watching a spider spinning a web or a chipmunk munching on a leaf would capture our attention so fully? With the children, we see these things with fresh eyes and marvel at what we might not have even noticed. “Look” someone says and everyone does! Together we give nature our full attention, opening our minds and hearts to learning about and loving this great big, wonderful world!

When our souls are full of wonder, we perceive the world as good. This fills a reservoir of hope within, one that can serve us lifelong. It is hope that motivates us to take action to make the world a better place. Children are not yet ready to learn about the problems in the world, but a foundation of hope is great preparation.

Back to the bubble of joy we share with our grandchildren, within it, our souls are nourished by music. We spend time singing whenever we are in the car, taking a walk, or settling into sleep. Those moments are made more precious by the songs we share – breathing in and out together filling the air with melodies.

It is delightful that our senses, our energy, and our souls are fed while tending to the needs of the grandchildren. It goes without saying that warm hugs and affectionate words are indeed the yummiest of all soul foods. When together, we don’t miss an opportunity to express love which we receive in kind. Love you big becomes love you even bigger said with a bellowing voice!

And we know that life’s challenges can beckon our serious side, but not when we are with the grandchildren. With them, we are reminded of our playful spirits. We know that their learning happens through play. And it is how we connect, learn, and enjoy our time together.

After a day with the grandchildren, our spirits are full to overflowing, even if our bodies are tired. We never tire of sharing stories of our experiences. I call them stories of grandma love!

Today’s Living Arts Weekly was written by author Judith Frizlen, who has just come out with a new book, Where Wisdom Meets Wonder: Forty Stories of Grandma Love.
You can find more about Judith’s new book, as well as how to purchase it at her website here.