‘Tis the Season to Stand Still and be Astonished

Dear Reader:

Isn’t it strange how some words or thoughts just jump out at you and suddenly you see something in those words you hadn’t seen before?

This is what happened to me when I read Mary Oliver’s poem- “My Work is Loving the World.” (I will point out the two phrases that leaped into my mind and memory.)

My Work is Loving the World

Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird –
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.


Just lately we have talked about the importance of stopping to look around us at the beauty God has provided. I think that is why I am so drawn to Vickie, Maggie, and my daily walks. It gives me the opportunity to ‘ooh and aah’ over the beauty of something new in nature each day.

The verse “My work is loving the world” struck me with all the power those words contain. So instead of asking a child or adolescent “What do you want to do when you grow up?”…all we should have to respond is “I want my work to be loving the world.”

If everyone’s work connected them to improving and making the world a better place for those who followed…what a wonderful world we would have!

When I took Tigger for a walk Friday I stopped to take these two photos… while experiencing a feeling of  wholeness and harmony that connected me to the universe. An astonishing feeling of acceptance and unity by everything that makes up life.

“My work…which is mainly standing still and learning to be astonished.”

In a beautiful children’s story Anne Peterson discovered several years ago and told me about…a proud camel brags too much on his ability to take everything everyone brings on his back to the Christ-Child. In spite of his bad health…the old camel thinks miraculously he is going to make it to the stable only to stumble and fall down when a child puts one final piece of straw on his back…to help make the Baby Jesus’s bed.

Yes, it is (literally) the proverbial “Straw that broke the camel’s back.” 

But instead of the others (gathered in the manger) mocking him for his clumsiness…the animals and people, also, fall to their knees in astonishment and awe at the Christ Child sleeping in the manger.

So until tomorrow…Don’t we all need to stop this Christmas season and take a moment to reflect on the significance of the birth of the Christ Child in each of our lives? “To stand still and learn to be astonished?” 

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

I am always in awe when Christmas magically changes my home to a room filled with twinkling lights and memories of Christmases  past.

Walsh sent some pictures of the family taken recently…the family dynamics are changing soon and these might be the last shots of a family with just two little boys…Eloise can arrive any time she wishes in the next few weeks…she is just about done.








About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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4 Responses to ‘Tis the Season to Stand Still and be Astonished

  1. bcparkison says:

    I can’t think of a grander present than a new grandchild. Be sure and let us know.


  2. Gin-g Edwards says:

    Love the pictures you took…they look like paintings…Molly and Walsh have a precious family…look forward to seeing you soon,


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