Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeff Davis; reverb10.com)
My knee-jerk reaction is to say “cultivating a sense of wonder is the same thing as cultivating mindfulness,” but in reality, that would not be a very mindful answer. It would be an answer from my reaction-self, instead of my observing-self.
It’s the season of the year where everyone talks about child-like wonder, much like the scene in The Christmas Story where Ralphie and his family go to look at the department store window display. “Wow,” the children breathe, and they are in awe and wonder at the spectacle.
I was thinking a couple of Sundays ago, as I was reading “The Heart of Christianity,” I began to think about what it would mean that God is transcendent. The best analogy that I can access, really, is one that exists in one of my favorite series of young adult books. The Young Wizard Books, by Diane Duane, are set in a universe with a Supreme Creator, generally referred to as The One. There are other Powers that Be, and The One is generally left undescribed, but one thing which is generally mentioned is Timeheart.
Timeheart is a place where everything is perfect; everything is perfection. When we die, we go to live in Timeheart — one of the most quoted lines from the books is, “If time has a heart, it’s because other hearts stop.” The idea is that this was the original universe, the one created by The One, by God, and all other universes are reflections and corruptions of that first one. And the wizards, throughout the universes, are working with the Powers that Be, including the One, to restore and repair our universes, so that we may move closer to the perfection that is promised us in the fulfillment of time. Or, at least, that’s how I choose to interpret the books, and how I more easily understand the idea of a Transcendent God.
I think that all of this explanation is to talk about how I experience wonder.
I experience wonder in nature, in perfection. While I drive in my car and observe the landscape that I’m speeding past — the colors of the fall, the skeletons in the winter, the lime green new leaves in the spring. God is in those trees, and through that transcendence, they are perfect.
I experience wonder in change. I went and voted this past November 2, and thought about how the next time I vote — next August, probably, in a primary — I will bring my infant with me. I wondered at time and circumstances marching on, how things we think of as routine can change in texture and meaning as our life marches on.
I experience wonder when I take the time to notice — to notice the crowd at an outdoor concert, and the little girl wearing glittery chuck taylors, knee-high stripped socks and her red hair in pigtails. When I look into my husband’s eyes intentionally, meeting them for long moments, as we both smile and yet don’t look away — wonder and comfort and love from this particular interaction.
I experience wonder when things are no longer abstract, when they become a reality before me. Seeing my baby, my Rocketship, have a head and arms and legs and vertebrae — I fell in love, in open-mouth wonder.
What have I done in the last year to cultivate my sense of wonder? I have quieted my soul, and I have begun to see. I have noticed things as they are, and know that they are fleeting, that moments are not to be grasped. This isn’t a skill that I have perfected; it’s not a skill I can even claim to be an apprentice in. But it is a practice, and a way of life that I wish to continue in the new year.