Learning to Wonder
Updated: Aug 26, 2018
I remember one of my first "solo campouts" as a boy. I was probably twelve. My friend Justin and I left our parents behind and set out into the wild frontier of my backyard. We set up our tent only a stones throw from my childhood home, but out in the back yard we were in a different world. We were in a land where there was space to dream, where imagination and wonder were alive. At age twelve we were a little too old to get lost in an imaginary world of our own making, but we were not so old that the real world had lost its sense of wonder. For me simple things like setting up a tent, and feeling my feet slide into a sleeping bag were full of excitement.
I remember being snuggled down in my sleeping bag, cool night air in my lungs, Justin and I side by side, laying beneath the stars looking straight up for hours. There is something about the night sky. It can swallow you up. It will wrap you in a blanket of beauty and wonder if you let it. We watched shooting stars that night, tracked satellites speeding across the starlit sky, and tried to identify constellations. Wrapped warmly in sleeping bags and boyhood conversation we touched something that night. I can't speak for Justin, but something inside of me was fully alive that night. Wonder was alive. Awe was alive. I felt so small staring into something so big. I stared into infinite beauty and felt it. There was nothing to figure out, nothing to understand, just an experience to be present for.
Justin and I didn't talk about it, and I don't even recall thinking about it, but I knew that the beauty I saw was pointing to something greater. Laying there I felt myself become aware of the beautiful One who was behind all of this magnitude and beauty. As I lay there under the stars that night, everything on earth seemed to be in it's proper order. Heaven was reaching toward me and I was reaching back.
Many times since that night I have felt my heart come alive in simple moments of great beauty. This past month I was able to hike into the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Lake Tahoe where I took the picture above. The beauty that I was swallowed in was breathtaking. I couldn't help but stand in awe. But many other days have raced by without even a thought about the beauty of this life. So many days have been filled with anxious thoughts and the harried pace of American life in this 21st century. I forget that Heaven is reaching. I forget that Christ is present. I forget that every Christ filled moment is pregnant with the possibility of a beauty invasion. Beautiful moments have slipped by unnoticed because I was not present.
Can you relate? Do you ever miss the beauty of the present because of distraction and anxiety? Let me invite you right now to stop for two minutes. Close your eyes. Sit in a restful position, and just breath. That breath is a beautiful gift. All of the natural beauty around us points us to the giver of that gift. The Christian scriptures tell us that He loves the world so much. In fact he is reaching toward us, drawing us to himself. Breath it in.