Started this post three months ago and just now discovered it in my draft box as the following quote from David Benner’s new book Soulful Spirituality. As I look over the quote three months later, I suspect I was thinking how little the evangelical churches I grew up (as an adult Christian) did to cultivate wonder in my spiritual life. But maybe that is a bit unfair?? In meeting with my spiritual director last week, I think I shocked her in describing how little I was looking forward to Christmas and how my advent preparation has traditionally been non-existent. I think this relates to the topic of wonder and mystery. Isn’t the incarnation something about which we should experience wonder. After reading the quote, I would be interested in reactions of others.
The person who knows wonder is the person whose soul is deepening and whose spirit is expanding. Wonder enlarges us and draws us out of our self-preoccupation. It attunes us to the sacramental majesty of the world. It softens the ego and creates space within us for awe, surprise, and reverence in the face of the mystery of what is. It is, therefore, the natural source of prayer. But prayer that is born out of wonder is not as full of words as prayer that starts with our needs or desires. In fact, it is often wordless. It is this emptiness that allows it to hold mysteries so profound that the only response to them is silence.
In what way has and does your church cultivate a sense of wonder and mystery with regard to spiritual matters?
Although I cannot fully appreciate all that they are talking about in the following video, how beautiful the creation of God–what order, compatibility, what complexity! Originally found the video here
May each of us learn to be present in the moment and embrace the wonder and mystery which surrounds us daily!
A couple of quotes from David Benner’s Soulful Spirituality
- “Reason and wonder are not mutually exclusive—just distinct. In fact, we can quite easily use both faculties to encounter the world and, by so doing, know it in ways that neither alone makes possible. Whatever we approach on the basis of reason we attempt to tame and exploit, making it conform to our concepts and control.”
- “If we retain this radical capacity for amazement, we may be able to sidestep the impulse to control what we encounter and instead submit to the truly amazing and adjust our concepts to it.”
- “Wonder will only emerge in the presence of reverence. If nothing is sacred, nothing worthy of reverence, then nothing will evoke wonder. This is the plight of the cynic. Cynicism is the way we try to minimize the loss of wonder and idealism. It is the mask we hide behind when we choose to despise the simple and wondrous. Wonder may yet exist, but cynics will usually feel too vulnerable to dare to embrace it. Wonder demands openness, and that openness is simply too threatening for those who are cynical.”
- “The great mysteries of life—love, suffering, evil, death, beauty—do not need to be figured out in order to be engaged. But they must be befriended if the encounter is to be nurturing to spirit and soul. Any other attitude lacks the hospitality that transforms mystery from being the enemy to being a welcome companion on our human journey.”
- “The gift of wonder begins with the awakening of awareness. Our part is then simply being open to seeing the ordinary in a new light—through childlike eyes of wonder.”
- “Wonder is more a matter of heart-pondering than mind-thinking. It is rumination that leaves space for mystery, confusion, fear, uncertainty, awe, paradox, and questions.”
Check out this time lapse video to be even more awed by the wonder of creation