We went marveling this weekend. I hadn’t heard of this activity until a few months ago when it was referenced in a sermon at church. Our preacher told a story about a man who had sweet childhood memories of going marveling with his family on Sunday afternoons. It sounded very idyllic and when my 8 year old leaned over and whispered, “Can we do that someday?” I knew it was a must. So, on Saturday, we went marveling.

If you are unfamiliar with marveling, the concept is simple. Marveling: to marvel. You can do it pretty much anywhere. It really just takes intentionality, a purposeful plan to observe and appreciate what you see. To slow down and engage and notice things that you might otherwise miss.

The weather this weekend was too perfect NOT to appreciate. It was the sort of day that begged to be explored and adventured in. We live an hour and a half from one of the coolest exploring places ever: Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It really is as fun as it sounds! There are ruins from an old castle that burned down and many geological oddities unique to this particular area.

We loaded up with snacks, bottled water and a sense of adventure. Parking was a bit of a nightmare (we weren’t the only ones hoping to soak up some unusually nice February weather) but once we found a spot, we were off! 

 We started at the castle ruins and looked all around what was once a majestic home. You can’t help but imagine what it was like in its glory days. The parties hosted there, the memories made, the stories swapped, the devastation when it all went up in smoke. We tried to “see” where the rooms had been. We imagined the horses pulling carriages up the hill. We admired the view from the front porch.

 We strolled along the sidewalk and admired the old water tower. An incredible structure even by today’s standards. It’s amazing that it was created 100 years ago and is still standing in all its majesty. We talked a little about the science involved in getting the water in there (very little because this momma likes words, not mechanics) and how cool it is that it has windows.

We continued on until the boardwalk ended and we were walking on gravel. The trail led us to the top of the natural bridge, and incredible rock formation that is exactly what its name implies. We then backtracked a few steps and took another trail that led us under the same bridge that we were just standing on top of. It was damp and cool.

  After we’d passed under the bridge the big kids trekked up a steep hill by pulling on an exposed root. A beautiful plan until the root came loose and literally left Evan hanging. Their trip down the hill was less than graceful but they all survived. Muddy, but alive.
 We continued along to a huge rock wall. There was water dripping down it, from a source we never found. The kids rinsed their muddy hands and studied the layers of the rock. They peered in the holes of the rock….not too closely though, because who knows what’s living in there!

 As we journeyed along we heard a commotion from behind us, back under the natural bridge. Emma couldn’t control her curiosity and ventured back to see what the ruckus was about. Someone found a snake! And let it go! This was a problem for all of us because we would have to go back under the bridge to get to our car. When the time came the kids bolted through there at lightning speed. No snake was going to get them!

It was a great day, but not as idyllic as the story that was our inspiration. Sprinkled between photo ops was a fair amount of whining. A little bickering. I’m pretty sure someone punched someone else. Maybe twice. We had a poop emergency (two if you count the dog poo Evan stepped in) and at least 2 kids fell. The kids took turns wanting to quit and go home (at least they didn’t all revolt at the same time). It was deemed both “the best day” and “the dumbest hike” at different times. They marveled at nature and I did too. But I also marveled at THEM. These little people that step in poop and fight and argue…..they’re just so cool. The way they process things and see the world, their uniqueness, their similarities, their quirks, their tendencies…….they are simply marvelous.

Marveling was a success for us. I definitely recommend it and can’t wait for our next adventure. There’s a big, beautiful world out there. Get out and marvel in it. You’ll be so glad you did. 

Have you marveled before? What marveling memories have you made? 




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