This week I spent my day off in South Carolina in what was called the Path of Totality. As much of the US was able to see a partial solar eclipse, I was able to see a full eclipse. Few things compare to what I witnessed. Everything stopped for a moment, orbits and talking, cars and light. The sky went dark–except for the sun-setting orange horizon, then the crickets and cicadas started chirping, and the streetlights came on. And all of us gazed at the ancient sun.
I could certainly understand why some religions were brought to their knees by such a sight. I was. I rose to my knees from the blanket on the ground and stared heavenward.
The three of them, the sun, the moon, the earth–all of us in a 5 billion year old dance that once again invites us to come closer than usual.
Wonder is a mischievous spiritual discipline. It instigates new perspectives. The sun, so ordinary–the moon, too. And yet when they align, it’s extraordinary. But what makes wonder a discipline though, is engaging the hard work of curiosity about ordinary things. When’s the last time you were curious about a pencil? What it was in a previous life, why it’s ridged or octagonal? Or is it hexagonal? Why is it always a #2? What makes up an eraser? And why does it erase graphite?
The same goes for ordinary moments. Why do leaves change colors in the fall? Why do similar trees have different colors of leaves? Why are the colors always red or orange or yellow, and not blues or purples or pinks? Have you ever stopped everything just to chase a yellow leaf fluttering in the wind?
It’s also true of people. So many people in this world, in our cities and towns, even our churches. They all blend in. We figure they have their lives in order, or don’t, but either way, they’re making it fine without us. Have you ever struck up a conversation with a stranger? Not to get anything out of them, but just to hear a story that isn’t your own? Have you ever glanced in the open window of a house on the corner, and imagined what they’ve lived through? That for every moment you can remember of your own life, all the ups and downs and extraordinary and ordinary details, they have a full lifetime’s worth, too?
Wonder is a mischievous spiritual discipline because it instigates curiosity and piques our imaginations. I can’t explain how it will enhance your understanding of, and connection with, God.
It just does.
And maybe that’s part of the wonder of it all.