“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Have you lost your sense of wonder? The feeling you had as a child when ordinary moments held magic?
I remember the day I started to regain my sense of wonder. It was mid-October 2016. The air was crisp, the sky, bright blue—as perfect as a day can be. Just as I passed the large maple in our front yard, a beam of sunlight broke through the leaves. As it pulsed and shimmered, I felt sad. I knew something was missing. But what?
I felt disconnected from the beauty before me. Something was keeping me from embracing that moment and all that it held. That’s when it hit me: I’d lost my sense of wonder.
As a young mother, I’d viewed wonder through the eyes of my daughters. As a kindergarten teacher, I’d seen it in my students. One little girl, Emma, found wonder in everything. “This is the best day EVER!” she’d say. Nothing particularly exciting had happened. To me, it seemed like an ordinary day. But Emma could see through the ordinary to the ephemeral. To her, every day was magic.
“The world is full of magic things patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper,” said Yeats. Surely there must be a way to rediscover wonder. To be more like Emma.I just had to figure out how. Maybe, if I thought back to my childhood, I could reconnect with what brought me joy. Maybe that would be the path back. Maybe that would be the secret.
The secret was in plain sight. It was nature. As a young girl, I spent every moment I could outdoors—climbing trees, picking flowers, finding shapes in clouds. If I was going to rediscover wonder, I’d need to return to those everyday miracles. Since my husband and I live on a lake surrounded by woods, I had to look no further than my own backyard.
That day I began to reconnect with the wonder that was there all along. I knew wonder was a gift from God—the Giver of all good gifts—and that’s where I needed to start.
“Be still and know that I am God,” says the psalmist. So I began to be still. To meditate. To sit in silence among the trees. To wait and listen.
I’ve never been disappointed. Maybe it’s a thought that appears. Or a deer. Or a gentle breeze. But there is connection. With the Creator and creation and the creative in me.
With that connection comes gratitude. Being grateful for the beauty before me. Marveling at small details. Finding wonder in my breath.
I am alive. Today is a gift. Let me not squander it. Thank you, Lord.
What are you doing to rediscover wonder? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Guest blog post by Laura Whitfield, who is writing a memoir entitled, All the Faces Looking Back at Me She lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with her husband, Stephen. You can follow Laura at laurawhitfield.com