Wonder World

Somewhere down the line, we have lost it, haven’t we?

The capacity to look at world and go wide-jawed. The ability to wonder. It is unfortunate, yet, that is the fact. Nothing in the world any longer surprises us adults. We have grown so used to life, our eyes don’t recognize any more its beauty, grace, and the miracle of it existing. Not that we didn’t have the capacity from the very beginning. In fact, when we were children, it was the only thing we had and we went overboard about practically every other thing. The world then appeared a huge pot full of miracles: water, dog, tree, raven, sound, toy, milk, biscuit, mother. Everything excited us, setting off a series of wow’s and ah’s. The desire to drink the world and life was so strong that many of us as children kept our eyes half open even when we slept.

So, when and how did we lose it?

In an article titled Miracle of Existence, spiritual writer and columnist Ronald Rolheiser describes how his mentor during the Ph.D days, a Belgian philosopher-theologian, Jan Walgrave, made him sit up and take notice of this vital need to marvel, something so basic to life. One day, while discussing a point in philosophy, Jan asked Ron: “Do you ever sit on a park bench and ask yourself: Why is there something instead of nothing?” Ron admitted he didn’t. It displeased his mentor. “A true philosopher asks that question every day for it’s a miracle that anything exists at all.” And his recipe to Ron for a life full of life was even more beautiful: “The next time you are sitting on a park bench and looking at a tree or into the eyes of someone you love there should flood through you gratitude for the marvel of it all and you should ask yourself: Why is there something instead of nothing?”

To wonder is to contemplate. Is that what Jesus too meant when he said, “Unless you become one like these little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God”? Jesus invites us to become the contemplatives we once were. It would be quite boring, won’t it, for God to have his heaven filled with people who are morose, indifferent, business minded and whose tastes are very mundane. God wants contemplatives to occupy in his house so that they can show better appreciation of his work. Children are the best contemplatives. They know to truly appreciate things, be it a bowl of ice cream or the poignant scene of a street dog chasing down a hapless rat. In cherishing created things, they cherish the Creator. God gifts us with life and it isn’t too much, is it?, if He expects us to look at it with awe, wonder and appreciation like children do.

Jesus is one who wondered. At 33, he hadn’t lost touch with the child he once was. From his words and actions oozed forth oodles of love for the world of his Father: “Look at the birds of the air and lilies of the field; look at the sower; look at the lady who had lost a coin; look at the mustard seed.” Not that the people of his time hadn’t seen these. “They saw and saw, but never perceived. They heard and heard, but never listened.” A life lived in half consciousness, much grumbling and little gratitude. Not for Jesus. He could see things, enjoy and transcend in order to perceive and thank the Hand which brought forth the master piece that the world was. We had better learn to do it as well. We wouldn’t like to be told by Jesus on the Judgment Day: “Excuse me, but heaven is not meant for you.” Theologians affirm that life in heaven is not one of inaction, but a never-ending exploration of the wonder called God. People who have no taste for wonders will be a misfit in heaven.

So much for theology. Practically speaking, developing a sense of wonder can also help us live a fuller and more fruitful life.

·         We will love and appreciate God better, for we realize the world and all in it is not a chancy happening, as some would like us to believe; it is created, decorated and sustained by a Careful Hand.

·         We will care better for created things. The day we stopped wondering at world and life is the day we started exploiting them. Shorn of the element of mystery, they became mere objects for us to manipulate and feed on  – shamelessly. That’s what has happened to our forests, our rivers, our sky, our soil, our air, our sex, our relations. Cultivating a sense of marvel can put us back on track.

·         We will enjoy life better, for we realize the entire life is a gift and a sense of gratitude pervades all our acts.

·         We will love people better; each one, however close our associations with him/her may be is still a mystery to unravel, a wonder to appreciate.

So, the next time you smile, cry, sit in your living room, work in the office, pray in the church, walk in the rain, play with children, watch a movie, do the dishes, tidy up the house, water the garden, or see a tree, or a bird, or a flower… or look into the eyes of some one you love so much, just marvel at the existence of it all.

Isn’t it wonderful to live?