#Small Wonder — Looking for the Little . . . in Me


It was just a simple photo. A black and white shot of a young, blond girl staring back at the camera, honest, open, sweet, inquisitive. It was one of about sixty photos spread out on a table for our perusal and possible devotional use. I grabbed it, stuffed it in my bag and immediately took it back to my room at the retreat house.

There were eleven of us there, with not much of an agenda except to be quiet for a while, to follow where our hearts led and to sit with God. Sleep, walk, take photographs, try a little art, journal, read, pray, reflect, have a small conversation with one or two others. Just twenty-four hours — not nearly long enough, by the way — a gift from our denomination in exchange for being spiritual directors on-call for pastors/staff/spouses looking for partnership on the journey.

They were a gift, these hours away, in a beautiful place, with kind people. And I chose that photo of a young girl to take with me on my inward journey. She sat propped up on the desk in my room for a few hours, then on the bedside table. And she accidentally got put into my bag for the journey back home. I’ll return her to her owner soon. 

But not just yet. 

I need to remember her and to notice the ways in which the girl in my borrowed photo reminds me in of the girl in the picture at the top of this post, the girl who happens to be me at age ten.

Sometimes the little girl inside gets shoved to the sidelines and when she’s pushed over there, she can stir things up in ways that are important. She gets anxious, wondering if she’ll be overlooked forever. So sometimes, I need to stop, look for her and listen.

How are you today, honey? Feeling cared for? I want to take good care of you, I really do. I don’t want you to worry. And I don’t want you to worry me, okay? 

Most of the time, all she needs is a fond look, a pat on the head, a few loving words. That’s it. When she feels safe, she comes right back into the center of things and looks out my aging eyes with wonder and anticipation.

I need her, you see.

I need her to remind me that there will always be a part of me that is young, easily frightened and yet open to learn and be loved. She helps me to be young-at-heart, even when the bones and the joints, the muscles and the skin tone are showing their antiquity.

She is the wondering center of me, a key player in my own sense of self, a gift from long ago to today.

Joining with the lovely Kelly Chripczuk today for her wonderful series (just discovered by me) of short essays on small things each week. Thanks, Kelly.

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  1. Thank you. I needed this reminder and tears came. My little one is too often pushed to the side and stirs things up way too much. Gentleness and love symbiosis . And I love your words “wondering center of me”

    • Oh, Jan. So glad this touched you. We are not so good at caring for that small person inside most of the time. It often takes getting away from the usual for me to remember to be kind to her.

  2. I’m so happy to see you chiming in, Diana. I love how simple yet meaningful retreats can be – just a few small things to stir the open heart. What a gift from your denomination. When I think of the little girl in me, I know I need to make sure she has time to play and to rest and to let others be in charge for awhile. Thanks for linking, Diana.

  3. Oh Diane, I like that phrase, ‘the wondering center of me.’ What a poignant post, much to ponder here, about all the ways we cover up the younger us, the one that’s always there.
    Thanks for linking up with the Small Wonder community this week!

    • Thanks for spurring me to in, Jody (spelled right this time!) And we do tend to cover that little one right over, don’t we? Much to our sorrow, I think.

  4. I wonder if every woman harbours a tiny seed of vulnerability at her core. In recent months I’ve noticed several places around the Internet where woman have written letters to their younger selves that have been quite revealing. Remembering who we were and examining how we’ve transitioned into who we are could be an interesting exercise. In the end, though, despite a few potholes in the road, I’m content to be where God’s leading has brought me.

    • Yeah, those letters to our younger selves have been around a while – I’ve written a couple over the past four+ years. It’s actually been a helpful exercise and basically, I agree with you – I’m grateful for where I’ve landed (maybe ‘am landing’ is more accurate?) and wouldn’t change much! Thanks for reading and commenting, Carol.

  5. So wonderfully written. Your description of aging while still being that little girl in many ways is spot on.

  6. Love this Diana. I have been doing work around unmet needs of my little girl. Paying attention to her Recognizing when she is upset and needs attention. I still need to learn to check I with her more instead of waiting till she gets lost in the shuffle.

    • Yeah, we’ve all got unmet needs inside – and it’s good work to ferret out what those are. Good for you for digging in and doing it!