Wonder and Delight

It’s not always a vertiginous mountain or the sky on fire at sunset. Wonder and delight can be found in the ordinary also: on the walk to work, among the wild flowers, in the laughter of friends. In this photo collection, we asked Venn alumni Luke Edwards, Cassandra Burton-Wood, and Tamsin Woolf (Residential Fellowship 2018/19, pictured L-R) to keep their phones close and take snapshots of moments of wonder and delight they stumbled across in their everyday lives in Wellington.

Cassandra Burton-Wood

The moments of wonder and delight I have experienced over the last month or so have fallen into two categories: those that you’re so caught up in you completely forget about taking a photo and those in which a photo is an appropriate thing to take.

In the former category are two trips to the beach. The first was spontaneous—out to Red Rocks in Owhiro Bay, Wellington. The beach was empty except for my friends and I, standing on a large log that was pointing directly into the surf. The waves were tall and powerful, creating this thick layer of foam that would appear and disappear as each new wave crashed in. Staring out into the horizon, I had the unsettling and thrilling feeling of being before something that could kill me, something that was so beautiful and so ‘other.’ I didn’t dare take a photo.

The second trip to the beach was in my hometown. I had snuck away from the city for a night and took the opportunity, before reconnecting with any friends or family, to walk by myself on the beach I had grown up on. I was tired and worn out from my city life, but, as I walked on that very familiar stretch of sand with Kapiti Island on one side and the dunes on the other, I felt my strength returning to me. I remembered who I was and, more significantly, the God who holds and knows what I have been, who I am, and who I will be. I’ve lived away from home for nine years now, and it is only in the last year or so that returning home has been a grounding and life-orienting experience. I don’t know why or how it has become so. What a wondrous thing.

There were also wonderful things where the holiness of the moment was not disturbed by the taking of photos. The photos below are of my godmother’s garden. Although I love and cherish this place, I did not expect it to be a site of wonder. It is a very ordinary, cottage garden—slightly wild and full of flowers of no reputation at all. And yet, through my long friendship with my godmother, whose eyes are more trained to notice beauty than mine, these flowers have become my most treasured flowers of all.

These are my godmother’s daisies. I’ve come to love them for their simplicity and cheerfulness. She always picks a bunch and puts them in a vase when she knows I’m coming to stay.

I think it was the asparagus that helped me to see that so much of the wonder of being in my godmother’s house is because she loves everything in its orbit, small or large, into the fullness of its being. A few years ago, she planted asparagus beds. Asparagus, apparently, shouldn’t be harvested the first or second year because the roots need to become well established. This year, with the desire of one who has waited patiently for a long time, she harvested the asparagus. We ate it on grain toast with mushrooms. It was the best asparagus I may ever eat. The enamel jug the asparagus is sitting in belonged to my godmother’s grandmother.

Tamsin Woolf

I delight in morning light. Rhyming … delight! Seriously though, light—morning light in particular—feels like an invitation to be attentive to the beauty that I easily overlook on greyer days.

This is Amy and Chad. They are married. Amy is painting a homemade face mask on Chad’s face. The avocados Chad bought at the market were inedible, so Amy turned them into an oaty-avocado-y face mask. I delight in the mystery of our friendship.

Luke Edwards

This used to be the way I would walk to work, and, routinely, I would be struck by the beauty. It’s been a couple of years since it was a regular part of my day but returning invokes memories and returns me to God’s presence.

My nephew George was born the day before the first lockdown, meaning that I wasn’t able to be with him for a couple of months. But now, being able to be with him, taking in his smile, cooing, and joy, is a delight.

(Images: Supplied)