How’s your sense of wonder these days? Do you stop and stare at the sunrise? Would you marvel at a squirrel’s acrobatics? When’s the last time you studied a crocus poking through winter’s last snowfall?
The past few weeks, I’ve been revisiting my first book, re-reading it closely as I prepare to release a revised edition. For the book, I interviewed a group of moms, asking about their faith and their family, to include their responses in each chapter. My friend Trish said this:
My daughter, Sabrina, helps me see the majestic in the mundane. We were walking up to the post office to mail some presents, and I couldn’t wait for vacation, to get to the mountains and get some good-looking scenery. I was focused far ahead and not focused on the present. As Sabrina was walking up, she gasped and said in a hushed voice, “Mommy, look! There’s a sea of diamonds!” This was a revelation to me. I started noticing, and you know, the glistening snow really is a sea of diamonds! What a blessing to have this child in my life; I would never have seen it otherwise.
How do we let ourselves be surprised like that? How do we have eyes to see and ears to hear?
I think one way is to develop—or redevelop—our sense of wonder.
Maybe you made it to adulthood still full of childlike delight, optimism, and imagination. If so, capitalize on the energy that flows from that free and fanciful way of interacting with the world. It’ll feed your imagination and fuel your creativity. With optimism and delight, you’ll find ways to maintain a sense of wonder.
But guard yourself, lest you start speeding up to the pace of our culture, moving too fast to notice the beauty right in front you, to listen to the music of the mockingbird, or to smell the hyacinths blooming by the mailbox. Guard yourself, or over time you may lose that sense of wonder.
The good news is that all of us, even those who are a bit distracted or jaded, can start paying closer attention. Look back at what Trish said. At the post office that day, she was focused on the future, not on the present. Sabrina helped her notice the beauty right at her feet—to see the majestic in the mundane.
Trish engaged her senses. She slowed down. She paid attention. By seeing what her daughter saw, Trish had eyes to see. A little child led her.
I turned into my driveway the other day and saw the magnolia tree bejeweled with magenta blossoms poised to unfurl.
“A tree of sapphires.” I remembered Sabrina’s gaze at a snow-covered parking lot littered with diamonds.
I slowed down to take it in. I engaged my senses. I paid attention.
Because I don’t ever want to lose my sense of wonder.
A man who has lost his sense of wonder is a man dead.
— William of Saint Thierry
Source: Talbot, John Michael, with Steve Rabey. The Lessons of St. Francis. New York: Dutton, 1997. 181. Print.
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Michelle Ortega says
At the end of my walk this morning, I heard a woodpecker hammering for breakfast and took a few moments to look for the tree and spy him from the ground below. I actually saw him tapping away in bursts of a few seconds at a time, and realized that’s probably the first time I’ve seen one in action. Usually the trees are covered in leaves, or else I’ve seen them at my parents birdfeeder.
Once I saw the movement, I was amazed at the mechanism and wondered how this bird can do that without cracking its beak, concussing its head, or giving itself whiplash. I wrote about my walk this afternoon, and used a quick google search to answer the questions I had about the birds.
Thank you, once again, for the reminder to keep wonder (and play) within our daily activities!
Ann Kroeker says
Wonder and curiosity (and, as you observe, play!) go hand-in-hand in this story. Amazed and curious, you looked up more to understand. Thanks for modeling your own efforts to nurture and maintain your sense of wonder!
The chance to explore, which is why I love writing. With all the pressure I’ve been putting on myself to write professionally, I think I had put aside my joy and love with the process; which was the whole reason I started writing to begin with.
Thanks for the reminder to stop and enjoy the process! 🙂
Ann Kroeker says
Yes, writing-as-discovery! I’m so glad you’re rediscovering the joy!