Skip to main content

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.


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.

Popular posts from this blog

Dirty Hands Can Save You from Hell

"Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place." --Pope Francis, Laudato Si
     Wonder and awe abound in the natural world for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

     Perhaps we are caught short by a vibrant purple emanating from the petals of a wild lupine. We might stare wide-eyed at the lazy circles of a turkey vulture soaring on thermal air currents. Even the most agoraphobic city-dweller can find something beautiful about a landscape even if it's simply the warm and varied red, yellow, and orange of a sunset glowing on a building.

     "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" asserts the Psalmist. If that verse is true, why don't we live like it? Why are we flabbergasted trying to come up with the names of the many plants and animals we pass by everyday?

     All people respond to beauty in some way or another--even those who have willingly or unwi…

Worth Quoting

"Therefore whoever is not illuminated by such great splendors in created things is blind. Anyone who is not awakened by such great outcries is deaf. Anyone who is not led from such great effects to give praise to God is mute. Anyone who does not turn to the First Principle as a result of such signs is a fool.Therefore open your eyes, alert your spiritual ears, unlock your lips and apply your heart, so that in all the creatures you may see, hear, praise, love and adore, magnify and honor God, lest the entire world rise up against you." -- St. Bonaventure, Itinerarium mentis in Deum

Another Publishing Triumph (with a new journal!)

I've got a piece on benthic macroinvertebrates in this new fantastic journal: Jesus The Imagination. It's filled with essays, artwork, and poetry. I haven't finished reading it, but I'm impressed so far.

Check it out--it's available on Amazon.