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Book excerpt: Invite Wonder

Invite Wonder

During a period of silence at a retreat years ago, I sat beneath a tree on the shore of a lake, thinking, praying, and watching the water. Large-grained, gritty sand collected in the tree roots, and I scooped up a handful to take a closer look. As I peered more closely, the grains which looked uniform came into focus, transforming into minute shells, shining bits of glass, and tiny polished stones, in a tumble of different shapes and sizes. The glorious variety was hidden into uniformity by the filters of perspective and distance.

In this era of fear, political tension, and endless social media outrage, it’s easy to become jaded. We’re constantly presented with reasons to be discouraged. The world becomes drab as we process the ongoing stress, making it hard to access joy. Assessing our view of faith and grappling with the losses which result makes it even harder.

But our lives are filled with magic and meaning, if we stop, breathe, and look more closely. The wonder of a sky turning into stripes of pink and blue at sunset, the warmth of blankets covering us on a cold night, the miraculous complexity of skin, changing texture as it performs its function of containment year after year. There is wonder to be found in simply closing our eyes and counting how many sounds we can identify, and how much life can be experienced through that focus; sounds of children playing, birds, singing, and fire trucks wailing in the distance.

It takes work to actively reject jadedness and replace it with surprise, but as we cope with the challenges of deconstruction, it’s important work.

The divine is in the details. Seek them there.

But you don’t have to be religious in order to open to wonder. You only have to reclaim a sliver of what you once knew as a child. If you remember how to wonder, then you already have what you need to learn how to love.

Valarie Kaur


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