How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Wonder is a state of humility, of recognition of the beauty and mystery and grandeur in the world around us.  Wonder is a constant posture of learning, as taught in religion and the sciences and arts.  Wonder is surprise and awe.  Wonder is recognition of unknowingness, but devoid of fear.

I find wonder through the eyes of children. Five days each week, I play with blocks.  I look through prisms.  I dance.  I water plants and watch them grow.  Five days each week, I mine the gems hidden within the characters of tiny human beings who are still new to the wonders of the world.  I seek out their compassion, their gentleness, their curiosity, their powers of expression, and their thoughts.  Yesterday was the first snowfall of the year, and I was able to share it with an amazing group of two-year-olds who had no memory of seeing such a phenomenon before.  This is the embodiment of wonder: toddlers in the falling snow.

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

(Loris Malaguzzi )

I find wonder in the natural world. The expansiveness of the galaxy and the delicate tracery of leaves on a tree.  I find wonder in the complexities of the human form; the unity of each part creating a mysterious whole.  I love that I exist in a universe that I will never fully comprehend.  I love that I exist in a world in which the quest for knowledge will never become outworn.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. (Albert Einstein)

I find wonder in the richness of faith. The names of God remind me: the unknowable Essence.  The Creator.  The most manifest of the manifest and the most hidden of the hidden.  Faith brings to light the significance of every act, generating wonder in the very nature of being and doing.  The wonderment inherent in active faith engenders the desire to experience still more wonderment, and the act of this search is itself a constant source of wonder.

All these states are to be witnessed in the Valley of Wonderment, and the traveler at  every moment seeketh for more, and is not wearied. Thus the Lord of the First and the Last in setting forth the grades of contemplation, and expressing wonderment hath said: “O Lord, increase my astonishment at Thee!”
(Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 32)

I find wonder in community. When human beings choose to step outside the insidious flow of cynicism and reach out to one another in mutual care and love, this is a cause for wonder.  There is a mysterious quality to the bonds of friendship that connect people across all barriers.  Strong families are a wonder.  Strong neighborhoods are a wonder.  My marriage has been a new source of wonder to me this year.  We’re still transitioning from good friends to lifelong helpmates, and there is no limit to the wonderment we continue to experience as we bind our respective paths of service to one another.

The Wild Rose

Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart.

Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.

(Wendell Berry)

There is so much gorgeous truth in the world.  All we have to do is open our eyes.