As children, wonder wasn’t just easy; our way of thinking was to wonder about everything around us, it was our natural thought flow. We were affluent in wonder. Yet now that we are adults we have responsibilities, disappointments and failures that have hardened us. We no longer live in a world where the floors are made of lava and we jump from couch cushion to couch cushion to save ourselves before bedtime or make up friends when we find ourselves without any. We now live in the real world where just getting out of bed in the morning can sometimes be a struggle and making friends can feel like a part-time job.
To wonder as an adult is a daily battle.
Author and Pastor Rob Bell says this about wonder: “At some deep level, whether from loss or expectations that were never fulfilled, we lost the ability to be surprised, to be filled with wonder and awe. Life has a way of beating it out of us and while we all want to be successful, what we really want is awe and wonder. That’s our real desire. To experience this awe as an adult we must become like children.”
While there is truth in what Bell shares, I do disagree in that I don’t think our ability to wonder is lost so much as it has been misplaced. We seem to have hung it on the coat rack of our childhood before walking out the door but we must make our way back to her, we must return to her and cloak ourselves in her curiosity once more. It begins with a choice and works a lot like love. You choose it. After the thrill is gone, you choose to be thrilled; when beauty seems to fade you fight to continue to see it. It takes a conscious effort to decide that something is still what it once was when you first experienced it. I think it also takes an absorbent amount of positivity.
Don’t just see the glass half full, wonder about the waterfall it came from.
I think wonder is always within us, resting in humankind. Though, if not used and put into motion, it expires and becomes something very different. Enter, doubt. Maybe doubt occurs through wonder when unused, un-sourced and un-tapped. Maybe it happens when we choose to respond to the surprises in life with shock, the beauty surrounding us with a mere shrug of our shoulders. Or perhaps it’s as subtle as staring at the blocks of cement below our feet ignoring wonders call, pushing it further and further away from us. Simply choosing to look up invites the possibility of wonder.
When we choose to exercise doubt we disregard awe.
Push the pause button on doubt. Stop doubting yourself and the world around you. Begin wondering and allow yourself to rediscover. Choose to make the familiar unfamiliar. If you’ve become bored with your city, go on a walk in an area you haven’t spent a lot of time in. Observe the landscape and architecture while pondering the history that lay beneath your feet. If you’ve worked at the same job for years, walk in tomorrow and meet someone new. Really ask about their lives, wonder about who they are and the path that lead them here, next to you. Or if you work alone, the next time you’re at the grocery store ask the clerk how his day is going and if he knows what his name means. Invite others to wonder with you.
Wondering will make you a better human.
Bell does us a favor by reminding us to be more child-like. Children accept what they see and they trust their experience. There’s a wonderment we witness in every child who sees the ocean for the first time or lets a ladybug crawl up their arm. There is a newness that takes place within them and it trickles off onto the rest of us watching. Become like a child; children don’t doubt they experience. Put on new eyes every morning and try making every day your first day allowing those around you to watch. And if you still find yourself struggling with wonder, try hanging out with a child and experience the world through their eyes for a day.
As I contemplate the cosmos and the possibility that all of it was made with love for all of us, perhaps the wonder we experience in seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting is merely our response to that love. Perhaps wonder and love are in conversation with one another and are not separate experiences. Maybe wonder is simply our response to the beauty that surrounds us in this world.
Stephen Hawking reminds us to “look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist, be curious.” Look up.
Creation is calling, what will your response be?