In another one of those little-but-huge ways God works, a couple of months ago I finally read Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. Didn’t love it like I loved Bel Canto or The Patron Saint of Liars, but I did love the description of the scientist who was amazed and wondered at everything in the world– even his own dying. He approached everything in a “state of wonder” and told his student/disciples, “We have nothing less than the world to consider.” I loved that thought, and sent myself the following email as a reminder to reflect on this idea more:
I think the thing in life is just to be fascinated by it. To explore and experience everything fully, whatever we’re going through. Study our life like a poet and a scientist, a naturalist and a theologian would, every single thing we go through, good and bad. Just BE in it. Fully. Take notes. Be amazed. A constant state of fascinated curious wonder.
Then I forgot about it, until Lucy emailed Leslie and me a blog post about encouraging wonder in your children (along with loving praise to us about how we do that with our girls), which quoted a passage from Rachel Carson’s 1956 book, The Sense of Wonder. So I’ve gotten to thinking about this idea again. I was thinking this morning, “What if I could stop myself in my tracks, turn my head, rub my cloudy, lazy eyes, escape my usual thoughts, my usual habits, and tried to WONDER at everything around me and at everything that happened today?” To prepare to be amazed, to look at life anew, to marvel at even the bad stuff, even the challenges, even the mundane. What a cool way to experience life, to study it like a scientist visiting a new planet? To inspect and ponder even the ugly, the painful, the plain?
So much of what I do is habitual — I think the same kinds of thoughts every day, worry about the same things, and even experience the good stuff in a sort of ho-hum way, even without realizing it — even when I am feeling happy. I take so much for granted, notice so little, really. I think we as humans just DO that, and it becomes so second-nature that we don’t even realize it. But what if we peeled back the film, turned things around, looked with new eyes, felt with new hands, heard with new ears, tasted with new tongues? Wow. I realized that for me what follows “wonder” naturally is amazement and gratitude. Humbled awe at the everyday-miraculous, the right-in-front-of-me treasure of being alive, of everything always changing, being new. Not just that but a new curiosity, a new hands-off, lack-of-needing-control attitude, a sense that I am not the Creator, I just get to explore the Creation, I get to experience it, I get to feel. And it truly is all good.