Aug 14 2011

The Royal Road

Over the years many have commented on the importance of wonder in our lives.  In one of his recent books Sam Keen wrote: “Wonder is the alpha and the omega of the human mind.  It stands at the beginning and end of our quest to understand ourselves and the world.  Aristotle said philosophy begins in wonder.  It is the most primal of emotions, at once ordinary and disturbing.  As the sixth sense, the natural religious sense, wonder is the royal road that leads us to the other elemental emotions, and thus to a renewed sense of the sacred.”

I like Keen’s description of wonder as “the royal road” that leads us to a renewed sense of the sacred.  It rings true to my experience.  And nowhere has wonder raised its wonderful head more often for me than in the world of nature.  There are so many things I have seen that have left me breathless, so many things I’ve experienced in Creation that have left me feeling humbled and aware of the greatness of God.

It has happened as I’ve watched humpback whales bubble feeding in the Inside Passage, as I have peered down into Utah’s Bryce Canyon, as I have stood beneath the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, and as I have watched the northern lights in Alaska.  I have experienced deep wonder observing a meteor shower late at night, and while watching a glorious sunrise early in the morning.  I have stood in awe and wonder before calving glaciers, erupting geysers, soaring eagles and foraging bears.  I have experienced wonder watching thousands of snow geese rise suddenly at one time in New Mexico and while observing fascinating formations deep within a cave.  I will never forget how looking at Saturn through a small telescope in my youth made my heart skip a beat.  Even the beauty and intricacies of tiny flowers and insects have moved me in wonder.

I know that my experiences are not unique.  Countless others have had similar experiences.  Even the Psalmist wrote of this.  David said to God, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8: 3-4)   The world God has made is wonder-full.  Everywhere we look there are things that provoke wonder and move us toward the Creator.  I’m convinced this was God’s intention from the beginning.  Since God is Spirit and we cannot see Him He chose to make it easier for us by placing within His Creation countless things that will move us to a “sense of the sacred.”  He has provided a “royal road” that will lead us to Himself if we will follow it to its end.  Just the fact that God would do this leaves me full of wonder.  How about you?

–Chuck

(I chosen three images to illustrate some of my moments of wonder.  The top is Grand Geyser erupting at Yellowstone NP.  The middle image is an “explosion” of snow geese at Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico.  I took the bottom image at Bryce Canyon NP.)