Wonder: Where to start?

When I was about seven years old, my father bought me a ticket for a piano concert in the big city an hour from our home.  In a satiny dress and white tights, I sat in the concert hall holding my own ticket in my hand, in my own seat so big my little legs stuck out straight and barely held down the spring-up chair.  Far ahead on a podium a woman in a majestic red dress sent sounds shooting up like fireworks from glossy grand piano.  I neither understood nor recognized the music, but I knew the feeling of wonder.

Wonder doesn’t need to know all the names and history of the music, it knows that the music is good.

Wonder is seeking the mystery in streetlights, bicycle gears, paintings, and flush toilets.

Wonder feels like a cup of hot chocolate warming your insides.

Wonder is quivering after movie theater lights come on.

Wonder is seeing all the pinpoint stars of days, weeks, and years of experiences line up like a constellation, and not having to ask if it’s just your imagination.

Wonder, above all, is not having to ask if it’s by chance.

Wonder is believing that none of this is ever by chance.

Maybe you feel inexperienced at this thing called wonder.  Your years in the adult world of college exams, 50-hour workweeks, and keeping the carpet clean have choked out your ability to stop and see the world of magic beneath the surface of what we see.

Don’t worry.  This is not another guilt trip to add to your already long unfinished to-do list.  You don’t have to go to a concert, or read another book, or hold another meeting to add wonder to your life.

Anyone can do this.

When my daughter was tiny, one warm night I took her outside to see if that would shock her out of a fit of wailing.  I held her in my arms, her head straight out in front of me with her face pointed toward the sky.  Her crying stopped, and her angry body relaxed.

In the semidarkness her eyes opened just as wide as they could.  She stared intently up into the treetops.  What a work of art the world must have seemed to those baby eyes: the foggy greens and yellows with that bright blue above and the shining white moon.  She searched left and right, viewing the things we name without thinking—trees, stars, moon, clouds.

Looking at a starry sky does the same thing to me.  It’s one of many ways to shock ourselves out of worry fits and into wonder.

It’s not hard to find moments to wonder.  You could:

Brush your teeth outside.

Linger in the street as you take out the trash

Take a night walk instead of watching television

Turn the radio off on your way to work and notice the landscape

Spend an hour in the library reading on new topics

Ask someone to tell you their life story

Or try on Advent.  Try spending this month creatively focusing on the wonder of waiting for the incarnation of God.  If that isn’t wonderful, I don’t know what is.