Return of Wonder
“Wonder dies and is replaced by boredom, as we develop language and words and concepts. Then hopefully, if we’re lucky, we’ll return to wonder again.” – Anthony de Mello, Awakening
The hummingbirds work their way across the mounds of honeysuckle in turns. One fills up and flies off and another takes its place. The vine and the birds return year-after-year and each season I marvel at the intimate dance of the honeysuckle and the hummingbird. I’ve learned over many seasons together to sit silently and let the dance happen. I’m rewarded once again in 2020, a year like no other, and nod in gratitude to the dancers.
I keep returning to Anthony de Mello, and why not? Every visit mines gold, like a hummingbird returning to honeysuckle. This is an especially good year to re-read Awakening, and lately I’m scanning a few pages in between history and philosophy and poetry. There’s so much you miss the first time through with great books, and I’m reading it again with a new sense of wonder. And isn’t that the way with everything worthwhile? The garden is different every time you visit it, and so is the forest, and the ocean, and mountains, and old friends in our lives and surely a spouse. And so are we, if we’ll just sit still long enough to see.
I’m lucky. I know this. I can sit quietly in the garden and watch hummingbirds. I can walk on a dark street alone at night looking at the stars without concern. Born in a place and time with a skin color that offers me a silent leg up over people who are in every way my peers or a few notches above me. I’m not struggling the way many people struggle, and I’m grateful. But what do you do with the gift? Become bored with it? Jealousy hold it tight, not willing to share it with others? Lecture those who don’t see the wonder?
I think the first step is to appreciate the beauty in your own life. To truly see it anew. And then share it with the world. Pull wisdom from the ages and embrace it, and shine a light on it for others to see. To be a stabilizing force for those who need a hand, and a teacher for those who need to see the wonder in all of us. I view the merit of another person by the sparkle in their eyes, not by the color of their skin or the position they hold. Help others to see. To find wonder themselves. We all live by concepts we’ve learned along the way. Concepts are funny things. They change when the student is ready and not a moment sooner. Offer a hand to those struggling with the climb, an ear for those who need you to hear and a shoulder for those who are hurting to cry on. Share wonder with the world and dance with those who rise up with you. And keep offering a place on the dance floor for those who aren’t there just yet. They could use some wonder too..