Small Wonder - Barbara Kingsolver

Where was this book read? On the couch while ignoring a football game and in the "in-betweens." A chapter squeezed in before bed, pages devoured while waiting for the bus, and snippets sneaked during quiet moments.

Where did this book come from? A serendipitous encounter with a Little Free Library on a foggy October day.

Barbara Kingsolver is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She is an incredible story teller who delicately weaves the natural world into our human narrative. This posts focuses on the first essay in this book, sharing the title Small Wonder. This essay is inspired by a news article that Kingsolver found roughly one month after 9/11 in 2001. The headline reads "Iran toddler found safe in bear's den." What a wonder to find this snippet of news a month after such a tragedy. In light of recent events, I reread this essay, desperately praying that we all may find our greatest weapon in the "ultimately defiant act of loving one thing and then another, loving our way back to life," even in the most unexpected of places; between a bear and a baby. 


"Roosters gave milk here, bears lay eggs. The lion lay down with the lamb. A frozen groundswell just beyond our senses heaves and buckles, daring the world to dismantle these walls on enmity and use the stones to build ovens for baking bread. It would be the death of something, and the life of something. Somewhere there must be a door through. The alternative is only to construct higher walls, and the higher they grow, the harder they will fall." 

"We see so much, understand so little, and are simultaneously told so much about What We Think, as a populace polled minute by minute, that it begins to feel like an extraneous effort to listen at all to our hearts... I try with all my might to duck under this wire, not to believe in polls or allow the TV bluster anywhere near my face. At moments I have to stop taking in more news so I can consider what I've gathered so far and pay attention to my own community, since that is the only place where I can muster a posse to take on our local disasters of the day."

"Some forms of enemy are made more deadly by killing. It would require the deepest possible shift of our hearts to live in a world of fundamental animosity and devote ourselves not to the escalating exertion to kill, but rather, to lulling animosity to sleep. Modern humanity may not be up to the challenge. Modern humanity may not have a choice." 

"The changes we dread most may contain our salvation." 

"It's the same struggle for each of us, and the same path out: the utterly simple, infinitely wise, ultimately defiant act of loving one thing and then another, loving our way back to life... However much I've lost, what remains to me is that I can still speak to name the things I love."

"Small change, small wonders - these are the currency of my endurance and ultimately of my life... I have stories of things I believe in: a persistent river, a forest on the edge of night, the religion inside a seed, the startle of wingbeats when a spark of red life flies against all reason out of the darkness."

Here is a link to a good portion of Kingsolver's essay. I would highly suggest reading this book of essays, it is full of words that desperately need to be heard in this world today.