Wonder, just beyond our doorstep:
Can’t create it, command it, control it . . .
these un-earnable perks
in our everyday-bumbling-along lives,
this delight in the fleeting.
When it comes to wonder, I can shelve it. Quash it. Deny or decry it.
I can turn away, instead of aside, as Abraham did, pausing before that outlandish burning bush. One pause can change everything.
How to prep? or psych up? or even position the body? Should I kneel?
Random brain waves churn out an image: Inspector Clouseau in his blue smock, standing on his knees, impersonating the diminutive painter Toulouse Lautrec. Holding a lit bomb.
Note to self: Don’t let this image derail you, Klein; run with it. Plumb the random for where it might take you . . . for instance: the knees of your heart.
What else physically primes me to take in a flash of Beauty?
- Ear gently cocked
- Gaze ready to rest anywhere, at the slightest nudge
- Mind alert yet relaxed
- Shoes mentally eased off (for traversing holy ground)
Because a star may fall.
A bush may ignite! Again the brain mutinies, pulls up the infamous singing bush from The Three Amigos: “Yo-ho! Blow the man down.”
I am not always kind to the erratic hamster spinning my thoughts. Today I chuckle and keep walking. I want to be blown away.
This Ice Bush? I almost miss it.
Instead, I do a double take.
Double take: noun, a delayed reaction to a surprising or unusual situation after first failing to notice anything unusual. —Merriam-Webster
Yes, I turned this photo on its side. Did it catch you off guard?
Set yourself up
My latest experiment: Before these size eights hit the floor, this wonder junkie asks God to program her soul for “pause.” I want to turn aside often today, toward the unexpected.
Mid-morning, a song line arrests my attention.
Aroma of cinnamon-raisin toast propels me backward in time. I bless my mother, likely presiding over the Great Toaster in the Sky. Passing out hot-buttered fun.
Monster icicles wink on the eastern eaves. The glance of light. A flirtation with marvel.
Anatomy of wonder
Experts say a double take operates in the moment of surprise, a break in the pattern we’ve come to expect. Eyebrows spontaneously lift, jaws drop, muscles go slack and still as we come to a halt.
Involuntarily, our attention sharpens. Wow! We’re already hardwired for this.
When we pause after the double take, the scene or an idea etches itself into our memories. Upshot? We entertain possibilities, even answers. (Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath).
How we respond next—after the double take—affects our inner reserves. Deep within us, the Soul Bank waits. We’re invited to make a deposit.
Do we savor this fleeting visitation of divine nearness? Immerse in it? Breathe Thank you? Maybe we snap a shot with our phone to share later with others. Another kind of double take.
Double Your Double Take
Have you seen the movie remake titled The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?
Eccentric, reclusive, mercurial—Sean Penn nails the cameo role of Genius Photographer. Camped on a frigid summit, camera poised on its tripod, he awaits the elusive snow leopard.
Days pass. The ghostly snow cat finally appears—the shot of a lifetime.
Penn lowers his hand. Ignores the shot. Sits in perfect stillness, blown away. As if he can absorb wonder through his pores, then walk in the strength of this moment all his days.
Friends, consider the currency of God. Accruing within us, moment by moment, our ongoing responses to wonder—be it the natural world bringing us news of God’s touch, or a person, an action, a work of undeniable heart—enrich our lives. Wonder ultimately deepens our work, worship, relationships.
Is your Soul Bank in the red?
Each day’s mercies arrive, as Lamentations tells us, newly minted. Sometimes, visibly; often hidden. Always beckoning . . .
God is here now, reading over our shoulder, ready to invest in each of us more lastingly than we can imagine.
Building into us—even as we are—all we can be.
Tell us what you know about wonder . . .