The Want of Wonder

photo by Josh Scholten
“The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.”
— G. K. Chesterton
Perhaps it is the nature of what I do, but I never lack for wonder.  Every day, whether it is on the farm, within my family or in my doctoring, I witness wonders that bring me to my knees.  I am awed by how extraordinary is the ordinary, whether it is a full harvest moon, a well-timed hug, or a patient’s worry over a nagging headache.
Maybe I’m easily engrossed in what’s around me, but I know that’s not so because I can be as oblivious as the next person.   Maybe I’m just plain simple, but those who know me don’t think so.
Maybe it’s because I try to wake each day feeling immense gratitude for whatever the day will bring so must stay alert to what is laid before me.
Maybe I just don’t want to miss a moment, wondrous or not.
…it’s all wondrous.
It’s up to me to notice.
photo by Josh Scholten

A Calm So Deep

photo by Josh Scholten

Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
~William Wordsworth from Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 1802

The end of September is wistful yet expectant.  We have not yet had frost but the air has a stark coolness that presages a freeze coming soon.  Nothing is really growing any more; there is a settling in, as if going down for a nap–drifting off, comfortable, sinking deep and untroubled under the blankets.

Our long sleep is not yet come but we take our rest at intervals.  There is still daylight left though the frenetic season has passed.

We take our calm as it comes, in a serene moment of reflection, looking out from the edge and wondering, pondering what is waiting on the other side.

photo by Josh Scholten

We are Fields

photo by Josh Scholten
How is it they live for eons in such harmony – the billions of stars –
when most men can barely go a minute without declaring war in their mind against someone they know.
There are wars where no one marches with a flag, though that does not keep casualties from mounting.

Our hearts irrigate this earth.  We are fields before each other.

How can we live in harmony?
First we need to know
 we are all madly in love
with the same
God.
~Thomas Acquinas
I look at headline news through my fingers, cringing.   In the posturing between countries and factions, only the names and faces have changed, not the hatred, not the threats.
We’ve seen this all before, over and over.  Not quite 150 years ago it was in the Gettysburg fields that blood of rival armies intermingled and irrigated the soil.  Even as we now stand side by side with Germany and Japan, our bitter enemies a mere seventy years ago, we have fallen on new killing fields in the Middle East.
We can barely go a minute without declaring war in our minds against our neighbor, especially in a presidential election year.  The casualties mount from our bitterness toward one another here on this soil, not only those so different from us on distant shores.
How can there ever be harmony?  How can we overcome our rancorous hearts?
It is not love for each other that comes first.   We are too flawed,  incapable of love or being loveable.

First we need to know and love the only God who loves the unloveable so much He became one with us, overcoming our hatred with sacrifice.

We are dying fields desperate in drought.
We need His bleeding heart irrigating our thirsting soil.

Simply Glad

photo by Emily Dieleman

I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what C.S. Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.
Clyde Kilby in “Amazed in the Ordinary”

photo by Nate Gibson at Sendai, Japan

Recognized

photo of sundog taken by Nate Gibson

“To make myself understood and to diminish the distance between us, I called out: “I am an evening cloud too.” They stopped still, evidently taking a good look at me. Then they stretched towards me their fine, transparent, rosy wings. That is how evening clouds greet each other. They had recognized me.”
Rainer Maria Rilke,  from Stories of God

photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson


Everyday Moments

photo by Josh Scholten

The sacred moments, the moments of miracle, are often the everyday moments,
the moments which, if we do not look with more than our eyes or listen with more than our ears reveal only…
a gardener, a stranger coming down the road behind us, a meal like any other meal.
But if we look with our hearts, if we listen with all our being and imagination…
what we may see is Jesus himself.
~Frederick Buechner

He’s not hidden from us; we are heart-blind most of the time, so wrapped in our own worries and cares that we do not see Him.  As the heart veil is lifted, we may see Him in ways and places we could never have imagined.

Open eyes wide, listen with all your being, hearts at the ready, everyday, every moment.
He is here.

“Sir, we would see Jesus.” John 12:21

photo by Josh Scholten

For the First Time

photo by Josh Scholten

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive at where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
–   T. S. Eliot,  Little Gidding

I remember the restlessness of my late teens when I learned homesickness was not a terminal condition.  There was a world out there to be explored and I knew I was meant to be a designated explorer,  seeking out the extraordinary.

Ordinary simply wouldn’t do.  Ordinary was plentiful at home on a small farm with a predictable routine, a garden to be weeded and daily chores to be done, with middle-aged parents tight with tension in a struggling marriage.

On a whim at age nineteen, I applied for wild chimpanzee research study in Africa, and much to my shock, was accepted.  A year of academic and physical preparation as well as Swahili language study was required, so this was no impulsive adventure.   I had plenty of time to back out, reconsider and be ordinary again.

It was an adventure, far beyond what I had anticipated and trained for.  When I had to decide between more exploration, without clear purpose or funds, or returning home, I opted to return to the place I started, seeing home differently, as if for the first time,  after having been away.

Ordinary is a state of mind, not a place.  I can choose to be deeply rooted in the mundane, or I can seek the extraordinary in attentive exploration of my everyday world.

Arriving where I started.   It was meant to be so.