“I never asked God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder and He gave it to me.” – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
What is miraculous these days? What levels have we achieved in solidifying our concrete understanding of an ever-changing, ever-amazing universe? Have we progressed too far in turning theories into existing truth? We categorize and bring rational to all things we interact with. In the process we lose access to the miraculous and the wonder in our worlds. Rabbi Heschel notes, “As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines.” A healthy sense of the wondrous and awe-inspiring is vital piece of the life in our hearts. From out of this revelatory ability we can be uninhibited and free of spirit. Freedom to laugh aloud, dance in silliness with your two year old, kiss your wife of fifty years passionately and open your heart to respond to the creation around us.
The sense of wonder in a child is glorious. When you see their eyes light up at a puppy, the joy of a child being tickled by their father, the moment when excitement carries a toddler faster than legs can carry; there is a wondrous joy and lovely freedom in every child’s eyes. In the process of growing up we lose our childlike joy for the reasoned duty of the pragmatic. Difficult circumstances may bring this about, or maybe the pursuits of the self or success; the reality is that trading wonder for the practical makes us feel more secure in life, but buries the reason to live in the rubble of details. Sooner or later on this road, we trade our response of bursting into laughter for the lackluster experience of recognizing the humor. We have become very serious about our lives; who we are, what we want, and forget what we sacrifice to experience such achievements. As Mike Myers says, “Silliness is important. Being serious is just something we do until we can be silly again.” Silliness is a way to open our serious lives to the possibility of wonder. When we catch a glimpse of wonder in a child, in silliness, in a beautiful sunrise; we connect with the deep implication of what truly matters. We connect with a heart of God who created beauty for his glory and our benefit. These elements of beauty are the momentary essence of God’s infinite wonder and glory spread throughout his creation. When our hearts are stirred by them, we feel the glory of the Lord in their wonder.
The reality of wonder is all around us. Each cloud in the blue sky, the snow covered crest of a mountain top, the sweet eyes of a child, and the red glow of a sunset as the last rays dip into the ocean; beauty reveals wonder in the creation around us. The deeper wonders truly make our hearts stir and be moved to joy; forgiveness after being harmed by another, the grace of love which does not imply condition, anonymous generosity in honor of the Lord, or the twenty dollar bill slipped into the homeless person’s hand which does not condition their purchase or their character. There is wonder in responding the the world which God has made in ways which honor Him.
When we embrace the wonder in the world, we come to know peace inside our own circumstances and the trust which comes from viewing our world in light of all God has created. In other words, our sense of entitlement fades when we acknowledge the ever-present gifts in our world. God has inspired a “giving-oriented” sense of wonder in all of us. When we take the focus off ourselves and put it on loving Him and loving others, we come to know the wonder that exists in responsively serving the ever-whispering Spirit of God – the Spirit of all sources of wonder. Brennan Manning says, “The best gifts come from the loving hearts of men and women who aren’t trying to impress anybody, even themselves, and who have one freedom precisely because they have stopped trying to trap life into paying them back for the good that they do.” This is an amazing idea; to win freedom from the demands of the implications of satisfying the explanations and advancement of reasonability in life, by being unabashedly open to reveling in the wonder and not the why. This is the freedom to stand in awe of the Creator. This is His benevolence bringing peace into our hearts through experiencing Himself.
Embracing the miraculous allows us to hear the whispering of the Spirit encouraging our hearts. And in this, the beauty of the Creator fills our hearts and restores the life and eternal purposes of our hearts. As Rabbi Heschel put forth, he asked for wonder and the Lord gave it to him. We must allow ourselves the inner salvation of the miraculous; to lay the heavy burdens of our lives at the feet of the Lord and take his easy yoke of a wonder-filled life. As we know Him more, we will recognize how much our cup overflows with the awe-inspiring Father and how wonderful He has made our lives.