Thursday, December 31, 2009

Our Sense of Wonder

Have we lost our sense of wonder?

Several years before his death, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herchel suffered a near-fatal heart attack. His closest male friend was at his bedside. The old rabbi was exhausted by his effort to speak. But he said, "Sam, never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me."

Unlike Rabbi Herchel, we've lost our sense of wonder. We walk through God's creation listening to I-Pods, talking or texting on cell phones, or watching mini DVDs. We've become sophisticated tech-heads going through life without any sense of wonder.

Only the newest tech-toy causes us wonder. Yet even our tech-wonder is short lived. It dies by tomorrow. The new becomes old. Yesterday's wonder becomes today's boredom.

While we wait for our next tech-toy, we barely notice the stars in the sky, a full moon, or dewdrops clinging to rose leaves. Hummingbirds come and go. We don't see them. We mulch every leaf as soon as it falls. We seldom notice a red tail hawk in flight, a chipmunk scampering for a hiding place, a lizard soaking up the sun, or the tiny spider patiently waiting for its next meal.

In our race to get to our next event, we've grown complacent, proficient, high tech, and very practical. Our world has taken on shades of platinum. Glitz replaces beauty. As we gorge at the buffet of self-gratification, we miss the invaluable experience of awe, wonder, and reverence.

But as tragic as missing God's creative panorama of color, sound, and smell is, we're creating a greater deficit -- we bypass the wonder of God. We sit through church services and take for granted "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit."

How do we live in the presence of the living God without wonder and reverence? How do we sing about the grace and love of Jesus without being overwhelmed by dazzling awe? How can we listen to the whispers of the Spirit without a deep sense of surprise and astonishment?

Let us ask God for the gift he gave to Rabbi Joshua Abraham Herchel: "Father, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me. Allow me to rediscover the wonder of your Person, the glory of your holiness, the marvel of your love and grace, and the surprise of your gifts."

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