Can you remember, the last time that life grabbed you by the throat and made you stop in your tracks and just gape? When, just for a moment, you were transported out of your oh-so-carefully-ordered existence and stared, teetering, into the sheer, jaw-dropping immensity of it all? When your strategically constructed world of schedules, tasks, virtual realities and egotistically delusional importance had the bottom, good and proper, dropped right out of it? I’m talking about an instant of sheer, breathtaking wonder.
Wonder is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “something that causes surprise or astonishment: a marvel, prodigy; an extraordinary occurrence or event; a deed performed or an event brought about by miraculous or supernatural power: a miracle.” It can also mean ‘to dread, fear, or stand in awe of’. Wonder is a two-edged sword that combines the elements of amazement, shock, bewilderment, dread, exhilaration, terror, ecstasy and awe. Like trying to grab a falling sunbeam, it eludes definition, yet we recognize it immediately when it overtakes us.
Just the other day, wonder came upon me totally unexpectedly. It doesn’t come anywhere near a miracle or supernatural event (this might even sound a bit crae crae), but it transported me back immediately to profound joy just the same. It was actually when I drank a cold glass of milk. I have lots of milk, but it’s usually mixed in my tea, so to down a whole glass at once…I can’t remember the last time I did that. I had totally forgotten the sensation of that sweet, rich, creamy milk sliding silkily down the throat. How soothing! How utterly satisfying! The marvelous simplicity of that basic pleasure came back to me full force. Lesson? You can lose the wonder when you forget the goodness of simple, basic blessings. Children don’t have any trouble with the wonder principal…so maybe tapping back into a child-like spirit is key. Have we become so busy, so sophisticated, so utterly self-important, that the joy of humble, unpretentious things doesn’t have time to touch us? Are we really grateful for the vivid colors of our lives, or has it all gone a grey blasé? Nothing kills wonder faster than ingratitude. Possibly, wonder is trying to overtake us, but we simply don’t stop long enough to let it permeate our consciousness. Boredom is the antithesis of wonder, but maybe, just standing still for a moment to breathe the air of the universe might help.
The truth is, we were formed both for and in wonder. It’s really our home. Psalm 139:14 says I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows very well! We were actually created by God in the womb of the Morning Star, encompassed by the sublime grandeur of His presence and showered with every kind of imaginable blessing. We are spirit, soul and body: walking wonders! Wonder is full of the goodness and majesty of God. Wonder is the mark of His presence. The ‘Wonderful Counselor’, Jesus himself, communes with us every moment, helping us to live out the unique destinies written in His book. If His name is wonderful, then lay a heavy revie on me! I need to get on the learning curve of the spiritually astounding, transforming and creative. Take me back to the mother-ship!
We’ve had a surfeit of lessons on what is bitter, broken, dysfunctional, dangerous and just plain evil. There’s no end to the amount of amazed consternation, fear, shock or even terror life can shell out to us. Just turn on the TV for news and you’ll get a double dose. But that’s not the same as wonder. Wonder is pure and true, and it restores us to ourselves. It lifts us into the sublime dignity of our true identity. We glimpse the vast substructure of the universe, and our tiny little spot in it. Suddenly, we find magnificence on our doorstep again; the Lord knocking, with a big smile on His face!
Father Abba, open my eyes and ears, slow me down and help me savor the moment. Show me the flavor wonder is taking today.