As Ali mentioned last week, she and I attended a “Wonder Workshop” facilitated by Brad Montague in Chicago a few weeks ago. And it was, indeed, wonder-full.
In our many different conversations throughout the day, he kept returning to this idea that wonder rescues us from the ordinary and returns us to the extraordinary. And, as someone who spends a lot of time pondering the extraordinary within the ordinary, these conversations went straight to my heart. At one point he quoted a favorite from one of my favorites, Mary Oliver, who said “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”
To wonder is to experience “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” To wonder is to “desire or be curious to know something.”
To experience the world through the lens of wonder, then, one must be open to the beautiful, the unexpected, the unfamiliar, and the inexplicable. And to be open to all that, well… one must be present. One must be awake.
I was thinking about the things that stop us from being open to wonder and, for me at least, I think that the urgencies and immediacies of our day-to-days, and the “clock” that tethers us—our schedules, our appointments, our 9-to-5s… well, I think those can be the culprits if we’re not careful. Because they sweep us up into the “doing” and they leave no time for the “being.”
In a wonderful article called “The Disease of Being Busy,” author Omid Safi asks “When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?”
I was struck with this in a simple moment just a few days ago. So, I’ve mentioned repeatedly before my lack of housekeeping skills. And let’s just say that the past few months have seen things drop to a new level of yuck. The entire house looks like it’s been ransacked by pirates. But… I was hosting Easter for the family on Sunday, which meant people coming into my house. People coming inside! Where they would see things! Things needed to be done! I had Friday off, and so in a regular scenario I would have spent the entire day cleaning the house from top to bottom, in a stressed out frenzy to get it ALL DONE! Make it perfect! Rush! Rush! Rush! But you know what happened instead? Marlowe was home from school sick, which changed the pace of the day automatically. And I was really tired, which changed my pace too. So instead of putting myself in a cleaning frenzy, I just started tending to the few rooms my visitors would actually spend most of their time on Sunday. I started tending to them. Not cleaning them, tending them. I consciously shifted my thinking to that word, tending. And as I slowly and lovingly tended to those rooms and spaces, my whole perspective about them changed. I looked for places to add beauty. I noticed the things contained within them. I moved some things around. I gave them love, and they radiated love in return.
The next day, Saturday, was filled with the regular weekends-with-kids stuff and, since Dylan’s room was one of the places still ransacked by pirates, he and I had planned to tackle it that afternoon. But earlier he had wanted to go outside but then stopped himself because he’s been very fearful of the bees and wasps for some reason lately. So instead of cleaning his room I made him come sit on the front porch with me. We sat on the front porch to remind him of the beauty of being outside, and how much he loves it, and how not to let a fear of bees take that away from him. And as we sat, with him on my lap, our feet rested together and we looked at the trees and listened to the birds and just let time pass. It was wonder-full. So, his room is still ransacked. But who really cares, you know? We’ll tend to it eventually.
The world is a wonder-full place. We just need to give ourselves the space to see it, and invite it in.
How can you open yourself up to wonder today?