It's been amazing recently to see how the whole world is opening up for the sweet girl as she gains reading confidence. Suddenly she is seeing words everywhere. Not just random collections of letters, but words. And she reads them, or tries to, wanting to know what everything means and why certain words are found in certain places (on book covers, cash registers, and bathtub faucets, just to name a few).
But yesterday at church was one of the most powerful moments for me, one of those "a-ha" moments that come from time to time. It's one thing to know with my mind that new horizons are opening up for her as she begins to unlock the mysteries of written language. It's another thing entirely to begin to see that bear fruit.
It happened during a time of praise and worship. The congregation was singing. We were singing the ballad "Here I am to worship/Here I am to bow down/Here I am to say that you're my God/You're altogether lovely/altogether worthy/altogether wonderful to me..." It's a lovely song we've sung a few times in church in the past year, but not often or repeatedly, either in church or at home.
I was singing, and suddenly I was arrested by the look on the sweet girl's face. Her Daddy was holding her. First of all, I noted that her lips were moving...she was actually singing (not something she does all that often, joining in and singing with a group). Then I noticed the deep listening look she had on her face, as though she was really listening to the music. And then I noticed her eyes. They were riveted to the overhead screen where the lyrics were posted, and her eyes were following along. When I write this, it sounds as though I consciously noticed these things step by step but really it all broke over me at once. I watched her for a few more seconds and realized, with awe, that she was following along with the written words and singing as she read them.
And I just wanted to jump for joy. Sometimes when you're caught up in the mechanics of teaching reading (sojourning long in the land of "Hop on Pop") you can lose sight of the ultimate goal. You teach someone to read, not just so they can decode those little marks on the page, but so whole words of story, song, and Scripture can be opened up to them, to their hearts, minds and imaginations. Just as we prayed and worked in order to help our late-talking daughter obtain speech, reminding ourselves that speech would help her to communicate and to praise, so we teach her to read knowing that reading provides a key that unlocks so much that is beautiful, meaningful and rich.
Thank you, Lord!