Silvia, a smart and kind homeschooling blogger from Texas, sent me this book, along with two charming handmade bookmarks. I don't have a photo of the bookmarks because they are each tucked inside books my kids are reading. We were delighted by the bookmark surprise, and I'm delighted to read a book Silvia recommends.
I wonder if reading the book is how I ended up inside a run-down church last night, escorted by the caretaker to an exquisite surprise.
The author of Outside Lies Magic, John R. Stilgoe, urges us, like Charlotte Mason does, to get outside and wander around with curious eyes. That's all you need to do to find wonder in the world, and the world is full of wonder. Wonder isn't "over there" but wonder is where explorers, to use Stilgoe's term, notice it.
Last evening my family and I had a dinner date with friends in a neighborhood a few miles away. The evening was pleasant and we had plenty of time, so we walked. Even at a slow pace, stopping to play catch whenever we found an open patch of park, we arrived at our destination a bit early. To pass the last few minutes, we wandered into a nearby churchyard.
A man with a wheelbarrow approached us and said hello. I thought we would be questioned and perhaps shooed away, and I said, "Hi. We're just passing time for a few minutes. Is that okay?"
The man said, "No problem. Would you like to see in the inside of the church?"
"Sure," I said. I waved at my husband and son to stop playing catch and join my daughter and me for the tour.
I didn't expect much. I've been inside the basement at a community event and I've passed by the place many times. It's not much to look at. When we walked inside the dark sanctuary, I saw the walls were in desparate need of painting.
"The crash a few years ago really hurt the church. We don't have much money for repairs," our guide told us. It was obvious the place didn't have money for repairs.
It was also obvious that the place was gorgeous. In between the walls with peeling paint are huge and beautiful stained glass windows. Our host pointed out some special ones, like the dedication to Booker T. Washington. We showed us the intimate, but abandoned, Lady's Chapel, which has rondels in the windows.
But the ultimate surprise was when our host said, "We have something very special here that we don't advertise," and he pointed to two windows.
The little church, sitting a bit off the street, contains a treasure and we wouldn't have known about it except that we were walking, stopping, and willing to be led to it.
Thank you for the book Silvia. I already have another blog post in mind that I want to write about it.
But for now, it's time to get outside.