I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say, “Hurry up and wonder.” The much more common phrase is, of course, “Stop and wonder” and is often heard in the form of a question, “Do you ever stop and wonder…?” In order to make room for wonder it seems that have to slow down and pause long enough to pay attention.
If I were to ask you right now in your life, “What causes you to stop and wonder,” how would you respond? Given the news cycle these days it wouldn’t be surprising if what comes to mind is wondering about some aspect of the latest bad behavior of some famous person. We might wonder about many different aspects of such a situation. I’m guessing as well that if most of us were to come across the statement, “That kind of behavior really causes me to stop and wonder,” without having any idea of its context, we might easily assume it is describing a negative behavior.
Of course, the experience of something causing us to stop and wonder can relate to positive experiences just as easily as to negative ones. When I hear about an act of generosity or self-sacrifice, or someone who shows the strength to persevere in the face of adversity, it often causes me to stop and wonder what gives someone the ability to act like that. Yet I know that unless I am intentional, I often fail to stop and wonder and thus miss these types of good things that are happening around me every day. And I imagine I am not the only one for whom this is true.
The season of Advent starts this Sunday. Advent is a season that some Christians observe as a time of spiritual preparation for Christmas. Each year, Living Compass creates a booklet to help people observe Advent. We recruit guest writers from around the country to help us create a collection of daily readings around a particular theme. This year, the theme is wonder, with the title of the booklet being, “Practicing Wonder with All Your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind.”
In our Advent booklet we invite people to take a moment each day to stop and wonder about the signs of love, light, grace, and hope that surround us, knowing that they are there, and that we can enjoy them if we slow down, taking time to notice. These positive expressions of wonder often appear as a whisper, while the negative expressions unfortunately frequently appear as a shout, and so… we need to create space in our hearts and souls to be quiet long enough to hear the whispers.
So whether you observe the Christian season of Advent or not, I invite you to take some time over the next month for a regular practice of stopping and wondering. As with anything we practice, the more we do it, the more natural it becomes for us and the better we get at it. Let’s see what difference it makes when we each make more space in our hearts and souls to be quiet long enough to observe and appreciate the wonder that is all around us.