Alphabet Epiphany

alphabet in bright colorsIt’s hard to believe he’s a grown man, now.  It seems like yesterday this strong young man was a child taking in the world with wide-eyed wonder.

I recall one day, when he was five years old, watching him recline on the living-room carpet reading a children’s book.  He was an early reader…quick to learn new things.  He learned the alphabet song when he was two and learned all the letters and phonetic sounds by four years old.  At age five, he could already read many of our children’s story books.

I listened with pride as he read the story out loud.  Then watched as he flipped the page to the inside back cover where the alphabet was printed in bold primary colors.  He started singing the alphabet song while pointing to each letter, “A, B, C, D, E, F, G…” he sang with confidence, pointing out the next letter with each new note.

I watched with curiosity as he approached the letter L, wondering how he would handle that portion of the song.  Sure enough…he stumbled…

Pointing to the letter L he started to sing “L-M-N-O” then caught himself with a look of confusion.  His confusion grew as he made a couple more attempts at trying to figure out where the letter L-M-N-O fit in the alphabet.  Finally, he started over at the beginning, worked his way down to L and got stuck, again.

With a look of utter bewilderment he looked up at me.  “Daddy…” he started.  “I know,” I interrupted, “It can be confusing.  You’re doing good.  Keep trying and you’ll figure it out.”

So he tried again, from the beginning.  Again, he got stuck at L and looked up at me.  “Start again at H and sing very, very slowly,” I suggested.

“H, I, J, K, L-M-N-…L-M-…L, L, M, N, O, P…” he sang as a big grin spread across his cherub face.  On P he jumped up excitedly, “Daddy!  Daddy!” as together we celebrated his moment of epiphany!

Thinking, now, about that moment, it strikes me that he didn’t really learn anything novel.  He already knew his letters and sounds.  He already knew the alphabet.  He already knew how to make use of the letters to read books.

And yet…that was such a moment of excitement at fresh insight into how it all fits together!  Suddenly, the alphabet song, which he’d known as long as he could remember, made more sense!  It now fit with other things he knew and accepted as being true.

I think those moments are my favorite part of learning.  I absolutely love moments of epiphany where I suddenly have fresh insight into how things fit together.  Rarely is it really anything novel in and of itself.  Each component was something I had previously studied and pondered.  But that flash of insight realizing how it fits…truly joyous!

Have you ever had a flash of insight into how things fit together?

[Linked to Messy Marriage, Graceful, Wellspring ]


16 thoughts on “Alphabet Epiphany

    • Isn’t it, though? For a time-honored educational tool, it doesn’t differentiate those four middle letters well at all.

      Oh, and speaking of epiphanies, last night I was looking for an on-line reference for “the alphabet song” so folks from other backgrounds would have a frame of reference for this post. Turns out Wikipedia has a decent article on it, which I linked to.

      AND, the article points out that the music is the same as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

      Who knew? I actually had to sing the song in my head to confirm the fact!

  1. I have had those good kind of epiphanies, but also the bad kind…when I realize now as an adult what some of the lyrics REALLY meant that I was singing as a teenager. ha. I’m thankful that God never stops teaching us stuff though, connecting the dots more and more between what we thought we already knew to something even more amazing.

    • Hah! Good point, Lisa! Even there, though, it’s good to realize how things fit…even if it leaves us feeling a little foolish…

      And, yes, the Holy Spirit connecting dots to reveal deeper truths and a better understanding of God’s nature are the absolute best epiphanies!

      Thank you, Lisa!

  2. I just love to learn, and keep getting blown away daily at what God has done – with the world, as well as with all of us – and I’m looking forward to what He’s going to do next.

    I’m with Lisa, also – the moment when you finally understand what you so innocently sang can be embarrassing 🙂

    • You know, on spiritual things too, I’ve been embarassed at how wrong I’ve had things. For example, the series of epiphanies that led to my having a clearer understanding of God’s heart toward His children who have experienced divorce also showed me just had wrong I had it before…and how wrong I’d been in what I’d emphatically told others…

      Yes, epiphanies are definitely humbling experiences…yet oh so joyous! That “Oh Wow!” moment of seeing new depth in old familiar passages is truly amazing.

      Thanks for sharing, Rick!

  3. It’s amazing how we can go over something so many times and yet miss the meaning. I think Scripture is like that, especially when I The fiftieth time through, suddenly I have insight that I never had before. I love that God structured Scriptures in layers so there’s always something new for us!

    My younger sister used to sing the alphabet H-I-J-K-kill-a-minnow-P!

    • Hah! Now there’s an intriguing mental image to accompany a time-honored learning tool! 🙂

      Yes, I absolutely love the layered depth of scripture and how the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to new understanding at just the right time!

      Thank you, Lisa!

  4. I love those “God-breathed” moments too, Joe! And I think as a well-worn Christian I’ve come to recognize them for the “gems” from our Lord that they are. But I think there are many who fail to seek God or to stop long enough to listen intently to Him and His word, so they don’t hear or recognize the blessedness of these moments … at least not yet! Thanks for reminding us of the joy of God’s inspiration!

    • “God-breathed!”

      Yes! The term used in 2 Timothy 3:16 and Job 32:8 for how the Holy Spirit gives understanding! And the description from Genesis 2:7 and John 20:22 for how the Spirit comes to indwell mankind. That’s it exactly, Beth!

      And you’re right…although it comes all in a moment, that moment usually arrives through much studying, contemplating, and patiently waiting and listening.

      Thanks for adding that perspective!

    • They really do keep us coming back, don’t they, David?

      I have so many topics that I’ve studied and put on the back shelf, trusting God to someday show me how it fits together.

      Most of those I’m still waiting on. But every once in a while we’ll sit down together, take one off the shelf, turn it over, hold it up just so, and…”Hey! Look at that!” 🙂

        • Yes, the Bible is God’s written revelation of Himself to mankind.

          A god who could be fully understood on the first read wouldn’t be much of a god.

          And, in fact, even the written word is wholly inadequate…which is why God sent His Son…and His Holy Spirit…to reveal ever deeper truths of His nature to us.

    • Yes, you could probably tell I got a bit nostalgic writing it, too. Lots of precious memories! 🙂

      It makes me wonder though…that sense of excitement and wonder at learning new things comes so naturally to children…

      Where and why do we lose that? Why do so many adults behave as though they are so afraid of admitting they don’t have all the answers that they become completely unteachable?

      Are we really that frightened by the prospect of not having control over everything? Is our trust level so low that we refuse to trust God with all the answers, feeling we must possess them all ourselves?

      Perhaps this is why Jesus stressed the need to come as little children…

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