The Different Shapes and Sizes of “Sermons”

Dear Reader:

Saturday morning I got a call from Mandy inviting me for supper and a spend-the-night over because John was trying out his new waffle toaster for a  breakfast brunch the next morning. Eva Cate got on the phone and wanted me to come play with her and Jake. A grandmother can’t turn down an invitation like that…good food, good company.

One of my favorite quotes (loosely connected to St. Francis of Assisi) says: “Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words.”

Most of us probably (hearing this phrase for the first time) interpret this quote as meaning to show our faith by sharing it with others through deeds over talk.

According to most dictionaries a “sermon” can be defined formally or informally. A sermon is a speech, usually religious in nature, given by a priest, preacher, rabbi, or other religious leader as part of a service. Although most sermons focus on Bible passages, you can use the word sermon more generally to refer to any speech that contains a moral or insightful lesson on life in a more informal setting.

This second definition brings us to the title picture of Jake and “Donkey” looking rather despondent and reflective yesterday morning when I found him lying on the living room floor staring out the side windows by the front door.

Jake made his first appearance in the den (where I was sleeping on the sofa around 6:30)…I was groggy and still “out of it”  so he left but returned a few minutes later riding “donkey”… his favorite mode of transportation. (You can hear Jake and donkey bouncing along from each room in the house…even with the doors closed.)

Everyone was asleep but the “donkey ride” woke John and he admonished Jake to stop bouncing and be quiet…everyone was still asleep. (John has been feeling slightly under the weather for awhile and everyone at the Turners’ home was hoping to get a few extra zzzz’s  in yesterday morning.)

So Jake  positioned himself on the floor with “night night” (his blankie) in his mouth lying on his beloved donkey and staring out at the early dim light of an overcast morning. The weather was not a deterrent for Jake. He was completely bewildered as to why anyone would want to sleep when it was obviously morning and time to rise and “shine.”.

I draped a blanket around me and softly walked over to where he was and sat down by him. I didn’t say anything…I just waited to hear what he was going to say…and I got it…my “sermonette” for the day.

“It is morning Boo Boo…I hear the birds and the ‘gooses’ flying over…they are all awake and they can bounce up and down in the sky and sing and talk loud…and no one tells them to be quiet. I wish I was a bird or a goose!”

Life in the eyes of a four-year-old…is there anything better? Jake always surprises me with his insights…the funniest one happened a few weeks ago while I was still hobbling around and hanging on to chairs from room to room….I saw Jake watching me and he seemed somewhat distressed.

“Boo Boo…how did you get to be old?” Trying to keep a straight face to match his concern over this personal revelation, I replied…“I think I just got lucky Jake.”

He thought about my response for a few seconds and then starting laughing and rolling over on the floor telling everyone “Boo Boo just got lucky to get old!” This thought tickled his funny bone apparently!

Aren’t there “sermons” around us all the time as we go through each day? Sunrises and sunsets are some of the most spectacular sermons I have ever witnessed… along with the ordinary gifts of beauty (wildflowers in a jar, gardens, blue skies without a cloud, etc.) from God that touch us every day and lifts us up.

The Word of God, audible or inaudible, visible or invisible is a constant in our lives if we recognize it as such. It can come from the most amazing experiences to the most mundane…like from the voice of a four-year-old and his “donkey.”

So until tomorrow….If you wonder where God is…you need look no farther than the space and people who  surround you on any given day.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Eva Cate and I got some “girl talk” time and she modeled an adorable 50’s style dress Mandy got her for the American Girl musical show coming to Charleston next month. And Jake was just happy to be able to continue bouncing on donkey.


I had to do a ‘double-take’ when I went in the kitchen and saw the latest message on the chalkboard. Eva Cate made her debut writing on it by announcing Happy Groundhog Day….Punxsutawney Phil…accompanied by her artistic rendition of a groundhog.

*Eva Cate…your display must have brought us good luck since old “Phil” didn’t see his shadow so perhaps spring will come early this year. For us in the lowcountry…it is happening this week…we are leaving freezing temps at night and cool days behind to have some sun out again and temps in the 70’s this week!

***Today is the 100th day of school so Rutledge’s school is having the students dress up like they are 100 years old. Mollie sent me these pictures this morning. I told her what a great job she had done and if she could do that in reverse I would call and make an appointment!:)

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 The Different Shapes and Sizes of “Sermons”

  1. Children are so honest saying whatever they think or asking questions. When I turned 40, my oldest grandson, now age 35, asked me, with fear in his eyes, “Granny, are you going to die? He was eight, so 40 sounded ancient to him. I reassured him that I would be okay. Wonderful post, Becky.


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I do believe we have grandchildren to keep us humble don’t you? Apparently the sixties are not the new forties as advertised these days…though like you said…forty is ancient to children under 10!


  2. Gin-g Edwards says:

    Out of the mouths of babes…such sweet and innocent but very wise comments…my grands say that I am not old…just older…they are fascinated by the large veins in my hands…love the time you had with each of them…


    • Becky Dingle says:

      I know…Sometimes I feel like I need to run put on some make-up around Jake now if I see him staring at me too long….though cars and trucks fill his thoughts 99% of the time…thank goodness!


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