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Surprised by Wonder

Our guest preacher this morning commented on how, during a retreat, she began to notice herons and cicadas and wildflowers and all of God's handiwork. I sat there thinking--are you kidding? When I'm driving and I spy a turkey vulture or a hawk sailing in the sky I whip my head for a better view, much like a third grader rubber-necking for a speeding, wailing fire truck. It boggles me how you cannot notice these fellow creatures. What's that 90's tune? "Where's your head at? Not to mock anyone, but seriously. . . are your eyes that filmy? Your ears too waxy?


I discovered in Last Child in the Woods that Howard Gardener (of Multiple Intelligences fame) posited that some possess a "Naturalist Intelligence." Something along the lines of having a keen awareness of the life outside our offices, shops, schools, and homes. Wanting to know how to match the words "Spotted knapweed" with the actual flower. Things along those lines.

I try not to, as Augustine cautioned, to confuse the gift with the giver, but sometimes. . . standing on the end of the Leelanau Peninisula last week, alone at dusk and waving madly at a white-tailed doe. . . I need a little intervention with my mania.

Yes, I'll discuss the fam vacay soon.

Anyway, look around people. What's that smell, sound, flash? What does sycamore bark feel like? Find out for yourself.

Comments

Rachel said…
Once--in a self-absorbed, depressed funk--I asked my best friend (of 29 years) what I was good at. She listed several very kind things (the sorts of thing you'd hope someone who has known you for nearly your entire life would be able to say), but one thing on her list really surprised me. She said, "You're really good at noticing things. When we're out for the day together, you always see something beautiful. Most people don't, or can't, see the beauty that's around them. I know I don't. I think that's one of your best skills."

Hmmm...awareness of the natural world as a life skill. I kinda like that idea.

Anyway, all that to say, many people go through their lives unaware of the natural beauty around them. I don't think it's intentional, not a numbness they've purposely cultivated, but just the side effect of living in a society which believes that the best way to get from A to B is the quickest, most direct, way. That speed doesn't leave much time for noticing.

I think the woodland retreat the guest preacher experienced allowed her to break away from the A-to-B-to-A tyranny of life, and finally see the natural world. I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes the sort of person who gets whiplash when she sees a hawk, too.
Scot said…
Wow, Rachel two posts in a year! You're not such a wallflower, are you.

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