“The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder”. G.K. Chesterton
“The world looks like something God had just imagined for His own pleasure, doesn’t it?” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
Recently, on a whim, I purchased the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Though I never read these books as a child, I thought I’d give them a try, and to my surprise and happiness, found I couldn’t put them down…I’m now halfway through the seventh book in the eight-part series. I know I’m not alone – many friends I’ve spoken with also consider themselves “kindred spirits” of Anne Shirley. Anne is an incredibly delightful protagonist, and I adore the stories of her coming of age, from an orphan who is adopted by a loving brother (Matthew) and sister (Marilla) into a grown woman. I’m inspired by Anne’s qualities – especially her zest for life and sense of adventure, her love of beauty and nature, and the way she strives to serve others in her community in big and small ways. She also has this habit of speaking simple and heartfelt wisdom; for example, “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive – it’s such an interesting world.” With a spirit like that, who wouldn’t love Anne?
Beyond the stories, though, I think there is something deeper going on in my newfound love of Anne of Green Gables. This seemingly strange act of picking up and reading a children’s book as an adult, and particularly, as an adult dealing with the sadness and pain of infertility, is somehow restorative and deeply meaningful.
My experience of infertility (and I admit that I am inclined to a certain melancholic perspective) is that it can often make life seem so darn serious. By saying this, I certainly don’t mean to diminish my grief and processing and grappling, which have served as a healthy and necessary part of my experience. It’s just that sometimes, I fall into the trap of forgetting that even in the midst of life’s most profound difficulties, God is constantly bestowing good things, and that He wants to fill my life with joy and laughter and wonder.
Scripture tells us that we must “become like little children” to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3). To me, this means trusting God as a loving Father, having faith in His plans for my life, and humbly recognizing my own smallness before Him – not an easy task! I guess I just always assumed that I’d learn to do this by becoming a parent myself. I thought, what better way could there be to learn to be filled with childlike wonder than to observe one’s children?
Over the past few years, especially from the example of the wonderful men and women I’ve met in this Springs in the Desert community, I’ve learned that having children is not a prerequisite to becoming childlike in spirit – in fact, there are many ways to live this out! For instance, I have learned a lot from the great G.K. Chesterton, the prolific Catholic writer of the twentieth century. If you read any small piece of his writing, you will easily observe how much playfulness, joy, and wonder is captured in his words. Check out this excerpt from his poem called North Berwick:
And I say that if a man had climbed to the stars
And found the secrets of the angels,
The best thing and the most useful thing he could do
Would be to come back and romp with children.
As I read these lines about playing with children, it’s hard to believe that G.K. knew the pain of infertility and childlessness in his marriage to his wife Frances. Despite their pain, they deliberately made children a part of their lives, like by hosting neighborhood kids at their home to act in an annual Christmas play (which they undoubtedly authored), among many other things. In their writing and poetry and daily living, they found ways to fill their lives with childlike wonder. From their example, I am reminded that if anything, infertility highlights just how much I need to follow God’s mandate in Matthew 18:3 – to learn to trust Him as a loving Father, who has my ultimate good in mind, to have simple and humble faith in Him, even when things don’t go the way I planned, and to accept my own smallness before Him, especially when I realize He is in control of all things and I am not.
I want to encourage anyone struggling with infertility, particularly those of us who tend toward the serious side of things, to take a cue from G.K. and Frances Chesterton and from the fictional Anne Shirley. I think we must deliberately cultivate a sense of wonder. There is no shortage of ways to do this (especially now that it’s summer!). Maybe it’s by re-reading a favorite childhood novel (or picking one up for the first time), or by planting a garden, or by gazing up at the stars. Maybe it’s by sitting in Adoration and contemplating how much God loves each one of us as His son or as His daughter. Maybe it’s through activities with our spouses where we are simply “silly” for a few hours and have the chance to laugh like children. No matter how we may discover it, may a renewed sense of wonder be the fertile ground for God to restore in us a sense of love, joy, and hope in His plan for fruitfulness in our lives!
Allie lives with her husband James of five blessed years and writes from deep in the heart of Texas.