The Path of WONDER
Human brains are not capable of imagining the vastness of the universe. Trying to do so makes us feel overwhelmed, humbled, and small. But the folks at Soul Matters suggest that contemplating the universe can make us realize our larger story. “From the vastness we came and to it we will return. … [T]he path of wonder is not so much about feeling small; it’s about feeling connected ... not just to the stars, but also to each other.”
As we contemplate our connections to the universe and to each other this month along The Path of WONDER, there are lots of ways to (re)kindle our sense of awe and astonishment. Soul Matters suggests several Spiritual Exercises that can help us. For example, we can try putting on a new pair of glasses, so we can see our mundane, everyday lives as remarkable. Here is a link to a five-minute UUTube video filled with ordinary moments that are truly WONDER-full, providing we are willing and able to open our eyes and pay attention to the ordinary.
Another suggestion from Soul Matters for traveling The Path of WONDER is to take an Awe Walk in a familiar place or perhaps somewhere brand new, seeing ordinary things in new ways. It wasn’t my intention at the time, but I did just that recently, walking down a street I’ve driven down hundreds of times. Freed from having to pay attention to driving and getting to my destination as quickly as possible, I became aware of people, plants, trees, birds, and sounds I had never before noticed. Ah, I said to myself at one point on my journey; I need to pay special attention right here because the tree above has dropped its seeds and they feel slippery under my feet. It was just a few blocks that I traversed on foot, but the experience was richer and far more connected than it had ever been inside a car.
It's easy to become immune to the beauty and wonder of our universe. Rachel Carson suggests, "One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, 'What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?'" I am fortunate to have a friend with whom I walk who repeatedly reminds me to open my eyes and pay attention. "Look at the beauty of this place and time," she often says. "The Bay, the sunset, the sky, the birds, the grass beneath our feet!" I pause, noticing that I failed to notice all that beauty, then thank her profusely for the gifts she has given me that make me feel more alive.
Most of us have experienced a single-moment spiritual transformation, such as viewing a solar eclipse, that has filled us with awe. But it would be SO nice to have a daily dose of wonder that could move us beyond our self-centered concerns into a wider view of ourselves, each other, and our place in the universe. As a gift to all of us this month, Soul Matters has created a YouTube playlist that includes 31 “doses of wonder” videos, allowing us to take an “awe break” each and every day during December.
The point of navigating The Path of WONDER is to sharpen our attention, so we are able to notice that all of life is indeed miraculous and astonishing.
There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
– Albert Einstein
Seeking more inspiration and wisdom along The Path of WONDER?
Check out the Soul Matters Overview here, and the complete Ministry packet here.