Through a Child's Eye: Mystery and Wonder
We are born into a world filled with mystery. We spend our earliest days discovering new things, becoming fascinated with everything into which we come in contact, figuring out the world into which we were born.
But as years go by and childhood gives way to teenage years and then to adulthood, our curiosity begins to dwindle as we go about our mundane daily cycle of work, entertainment, and sleep. Along with our loss of childlike curiosity, we begin to lose our sense of mystery and wonder and the world loses much of its—for lack of a better word—magic.
Wonder creates a moment when we are taken out of ourselves, when we come into contact with some reality greater and grander and more incomprehensible than ourselves. It’s a moment when we become insignificant. Wonder is looking at a boundless ocean or tackling a difficult idea. Wonder is an opportunity to come into contact with the sacred.
But our daily lives have been drained from all wonder. This is reflected in our utter lack of curiosity and desire to challenge ourselves intellectually. It’s reflected in students whose study goals are not to learn marvelous things but to further career prospects. It’s reflected in our pretense of knowing everything but still being bored with our world.
Wonder is almost equated with naivety, something to be avoided in today’s society; for to be filled with wonder is to acknowledge that there is something beyond us, something greater than ourselves and often it is difficult for us to live with that reality even if we know it to be true.
Without wonder, we begin to lose our sense of the sacred. Nothing is sacred to the modern world—not natural phenomena, not sex, not even a child’s life. We need wonder in our lives to be reminded of God and our place in this world.
But how do we get our wonder back? Look around you right now. What do you see? A computer, a table, maybe a couch or bed. What is there to wonder about? Everything is so normal that it seems I can encounter nothing on a day to day basis that can fill me with wonder. Absolutely nothing. Even if I happened to live right next to Glacier National Park or a beautiful lake, after a while, or maybe even after just the first time, it just becomes normal.
There is nothing wonderful about working a desk job or cramming for some test. There is nothing wonderful about the ordinary. It seems impossible to find wonder in the ordinary, but there was a time when we all did as little kids who used to pretend couches were pirate ships or that the floor was lava (even though it seems that grown men have begun doing this again).
We will never be able to recapture that huge sense of mystery and wonder a baby has when he is figuring out the world, but it would not hurt to open ourselves up to a little bit of wondering.
Of course, a balanced sense of wonder does not require us to expound obnoxiously on the wonderful nature of every object we encounter, but to see something and for a split second be taken out of ourselves and turned towards God.
To see a person and realize that he is being kept in existence by an almighty God. To see that same annoying tree in your backyard whose annoying leaves have to be raked every autumn, and instead see something so complex that no human mind could conceive.
Honestly, I am not sure exactly how else to bring back the sense of wonder in our lives. All I know is that I am sorely missing it in my life and that the world and routine that I live in is not changing anytime soon. The only active step I can take is to change my way of thinking. So here’s to actively trying to find wonder in our world, to find God.