As a young girl, my mind ran wild with imagination as the thoughts of children often do. My friends and I staged daring escapes from undesirable circumstances- usually an imagined orphanage- by climbing up the old cherry tree and jumping the chain link fence that surrounded my backyard. The grove of pine trees to the right of our house was the dwelling for fairies, and the brook a little ways away was not only perfect for catching crayfish but also for embarking on adventures.
There was within me then a sense of wonder at this big, wide world we inhabit. In the eyes of a child, this wonder is readily apparent. They gaze at the most usual things with big-eyed curiosity. Looking back on my life, I can easily spot three sources of the wonder that filled my childhood. I was blessed with parents who engaged in creative play with me and let me roam our yard and neighborhood on my own and with friends. Small efforts had a big effect, my mom crafted a world of wonder through tales of mythical beings and my dad led me to believe he could talk to cows.
Besides encouraging my imagination and creativity, my parents also read to me. The second source of wonder undoubtedly flowed from these pages. When I was young the stories entered my mind through the voice of my parents and the time they spent reading with me. But when I was old enough to read, I soon discovered the possible adventures that abounded abundantly in each bound book my little hands could hold. Each tomb offered a new world to discover, and the sense of wonder that comes with that discovery.
However, on their own neither my parents nor books could ever have provided me with wonder. Wonder is not something that is tangible; you cannot touch it or buy it at a store. Wonder is an abstract concept with a recognizable reality. We can point at Wonder in a small child, we can recognize it bubbling up inside us when we glimpse something poignantly good, beautiful, or true. Yet Wonder, in and of itself, is not something we can bottle up and store on a shelf. Even though Wonder was instilled and encouraged in me through books, it was not a material part of those pages. You can easily imagine two people reading a story and only one being filled with a sense of Wonder while the other was left regarding the thoughts portrayed as mere hogwash.
So where then does Wonder come from? Why do we as humans have this shared sense of Wonder that seems innately embedded in our being?
I hadn’t much pondered either of those questions until, as our Pastor likes to say, Jesus became real to me. Because when Jesus became real to me, and I stepped full heartedly into the belief that Christianity is true, I experienced the most profound sense of Wonder that permeated every aspect of my life. It was as if all the fairy tales I had read as child suddenly became true in the most wonderful way. The wonder I had known upon imagining a brave knight’s courage, the beauty of a castle, or the adventure of a princess suddenly billowed up and burst forth bearing a new sense of Wonder that left what I had once experienced as a mere shadow of the real thing.
The sense of Wonder that we experience in our life exists to point us to our creator.
And so I liken my discovery that Christianity is true to the sudden realization of being the adventurer in my favorite childhood story. To know Christ is to be awoken to the glory and wonder of his Kingdom that infuses our Earthly lives.`