Listenings: Ordinary Wonder

While holding the “magnificence” of the spiritual life ever before us, we must remember that much of the wonder we find in the spiritual journey comes to us through ordinary things.  Symphonies are played on man-made instruments.  They don’t just float into the orchestral hall from “the great beyond.”

As soon as Evelyn Underhill calls us to be “lost in wonder love and praise” (Charles Wesley) and to be caught up in the grandeur of spirituality, she immediately reminds us to look for much of this in the every-day experiences of life as it comes to us.  Jean Pierre de Caussade called it “the sacrament of the present moment.”

I believe we are born with an ability to see the wonder of the ordinary.  I can remember times when our children were small when we would literally have to tell them to “get moving.”  They had seen a Lady Bug crawling across the sidewalk or been mesmerized by a bird sitting on a wire.  It seemed as if time had stood still, and they were standing still along with it—a perfect congruence between them and the moment they were soaking in.

For reasons we will never fully understand, when we become “adults” we can easily stop seeing the Lady Bugs and cease listening to the birds.  We have to “move on,” you know.  Schedules to keep.  Deadlines to meet.  Busy, busy, busy.  We still believe in magnificence, but now it has to come to us with the force of a hurricane or the noise of an explosion.  But we don’t have life experiences like that every day, so we can mistakenly conclude that there is not enough “wonder” in the world.

We may become like Jacob who said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!” (Genesis 28:16).  Instead of this, we must “stop, look, and listen.”  Who knows?  There may be a Lady Bug crawling across your sidewalk right now who would like to tell you, “God is here.”


About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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