For the past year, give or take, I have been wishing people a year filled with wonder in my Facebook birthday message. I tend to gloss over the exact meaning of that. It sounds good: deep, kind of profound, definitely spiritual in some way, and certainly with a vague and unspoken reference to God. In actuality, I don't know that I've ever given any real thought to what a year of wonder actually means.
As I was mulling over this topic today, I tried a couple of meanings on for size. Given that I am convinced I have ADD, my meanderings have been
Oh look! Squirrels! And bright, shiny objects! Detours...
As I started to say, before I interrupted myself back there-- my meanderings have been interesting. That one of them was "I wonder how I have managed to not kill my beloved boy child yet///" will give you an idea of just how far afield (and how much on the edge) I can get. My son, though, gets me closer to an answer, a better understanding of wonder.
We were sitting in services this morning, me because I wanted to be there, he because I forced him out of bed and insisted, He's a good kid, so my insistence was not too demanding. He sat next to me, playing with the tzitzit of my tallit, listening some, fiddling some, reading some, possibly praying some. Later, after the service, sitting and kibbitzing with friends, my son informed me, again, that he didn't believe in God. And again, I answered him in the only way that makes sense to me> "That's okay; you believe in kindness. I'm okay with that."
This being the time of year that it is, I felt the need to elaborate. "Nate, you look out at the woods there behind the house and see nature in all its glory-- fractals and delicate equations and chemical reactions and set laws that are knowable and predictable. I see all that, my beloved boy, and hovering just above that field, I see God. You say science; I say God. I don't think God cares one way or another what you call him (her)."
What is that leap? How do I get to God-- the God of fractals and predictable science? We both looked at that idyllic scene with a sense of wonder. I think though, the wonder of it all, is the willingness to strip bare-- leave the cynicism and absolute certainty off to the side. There is delight in wonder, and surprise. I There is something breathtaking about it. Perhaps the difference between my son's vision and mine is that I see no disconnect between science and God.
I want to end here. Mostly. I don't know that I'm quite satisfied with this explanation. There is some otherness that pushes one into wonder. There is a willingness to be vulnerable and naked-- a willingness to disallow preconceived ideas of how things work/ There should be a sense of God, of beyondness. And I know I'm making up words, but I'm trying to pull this together and the words I know aren't getting me far enough.
Wonder is a startlement, a gasp of recognition and beauty. It is God and fractals and a double helix, twined in an intimate dance. It is a leap, from a field of liquid green laced with late summer gold to a glorious hymn to God, made of bright color and soft breezes.
And all of this may be true, but it doesn't even come close to the sense that is wonder. But there's this-- I went to service with my son this morning. I, because I wanted to; he because I insisted. And there was enough love, enough trust, enough a sense of rightness and respect, that we sat, for an hour or two, praying, listening, fiddling, laughing and loving. For all the geometry and beyondness: there is breathtaking wonder in that simple and glorious moment.