As the tall prairie grasses rustled all around, we were unexpectedly invited into wonder. It was a holy disruption and led to a gift perched on a single blade of grass.
Two people, an adult and a child, were headed one way on the trail, and my mom and I were headed the other. As we crossed paths, we said hello and introduced ourselves.
"We're out on a bug hunt this morning," the woman said with a warm smile.
She radiated ease. She and her great-niece shared that they had already seen 20 insect species by that point. The niece, perhaps about 7 years old, then pointed out a cricket jumping across the path.
”We saw a black swallowtail caterpillar. We could show you the picture we took,” the woman said.
A camera hung around her neck. She turned it around so we could view the screen as she scanned back through the morning’s bug photos.
“Here it is,” she said, zooming in on the caterpillar.
“That looks really cool!” I exclaimed. “What a perfect morning for a bug hunt.”
As if a lightbulb went off in their connected imaginations, the two of them said together, “We could probably even find the caterpillar in the grass and then you two could see it, too.”
It seemed an unlikely proposition that we would find it. Certainly, I imagined, it had inched away. Our two new friends began retracing their steps along the trail.
“It was close to the edge,” the woman said.
The niece was looking through the taller grasses. Mom and I followed close behind.
“Ah, yes. Here it is,” the woman said, with an almost mysterious certainty that she knew it would appear.
The niece crouched down to get a glimpse. We stepped closer. I squatted down on my hands and knees with my Nikon ready for a snap.
There it was, with neon rings and bright, yellow dots. The very same caterpillar on the very same perch. The curious creature seemed fully content. I paused for an extra breath, still kneeling before what suddenly felt like an unexpected altar.
After the caterpillar spotting, our new friends continued on their way, and we did, too. Their willingness to take a pause from their own bug-hunting agenda in order to invite us along shaped the tone for the whole day. In sharing their curiosity with us, the aunt and her great-niece set out a welcome mat into wonder. It was a threshold we were grateful to cross.
"Holy Everything" is a weekly column by Emily Carson. She is a Lutheran pastor. Visit her website emilyannecarson.com.