A friend posted this quote on Face Book the other day: “I would rather have a mind opened by Wonder than a mind closed by belief.” I saw those words and began to ponder if there was truth in them for me. It seems that wonder leaves us smack in the middle of the Mystery. It’s not as comfortable as the “knowing” found in belief. Wonder humbles us. Belief/knowing can lock us in automatic responses to life’s situations. It can make us judgmental and self-righteous – ‘better than’ others, it can close us. Belief keeps us from seeing outside the box but it is more comfortable as it creates an illusion of control. If I know enough or if I believe in the right thing, I can’t get hurt, “I will be saved”. Wonder keeps us exposed and vulnerable but open to God’s/Love’s grace in all things. That requires true Faith. Wisdom comes when we balance wonder with a belief system that is positive, creative and freeing, i.e., I believe I am loved; I believe the universe is a friendly place; I believe Jesus Christ showed us how to live in unity with God and each other. I believe I have a choice in what to believe as does everyone else and that we are all children of God/Love. But belief is not enough to experience life fully; I also need to embrace the Mystery of life – the unknowable.
I wonder what would happen if we looked at poverty through the lens of Wonder instead of judgment. Rather than judging the poor as inept or the system as failed or life as scarcity, what if we just gazed at poverty and began to wonder what it would be like to live that way or what would it be like if there were no poverty, or how would it feel if I could make a difference. What could thinking outside the box produce if we all looked at poverty through this lens? Perhaps if I looked at a person who was different from me, perhaps someone who is gay or transgender, with wonder instead of fear, judgment, or apathy I would be able to see something I’ve never seen before. Perhaps I would see a whole human being that is loved by God/Love as I am. What if I was able to speak to that wholeness, that loving and loved presence rather than trying to change the person, or fear him, or condemn him? How would this viewing point change my life, my community, my world?
Looking through the lens of Wonder at our personal struggles gives us the opportunity to step back and observe the problem or situation and wonder about the possibilities that exist in it. The Mystery of life brings us things we never wanted or asked for, it brings challenges and conflicts and pain that seem unfair sometimes. Through the lens of Wonder we begin to discover the questions we need to ask ourselves: Can I learn something here? Is this a blind spot I need to discover for my own growth? Is there something I can do to relieve someone’s suffering? Do I need to forgive myself or another? Why do some people treat me this way? Perhaps I need to understand a little better my own lack of boundaries that caused me to feel this way? If I insist on believing I am right and the other is wrong, I miss the opportunity for growth, forgiveness, redemption. Everyone deserves redemption, even me. If I can’t change the problem or situation I can still pray; I can pray for patience, tolerance, acceptance, non-resistance, non-attachment; I can pray for forgiveness, wisdom, understanding and compassion. Prayer is the most useful tool we have in our personal lives. When I pray for patience, I have it. When I pray for compassion, I feel it. Love answers our prayers as easily as God. I believe they are the same thing.
Wonder is the lens through which God/Love speaks to us, I think. Beauty, peace, and compassion become visible, tangible realities in my existence when I wonder at the mystery of life; but, I don’t often use this lens to look at things that are uncomfortable to look at. I automatically deny that it has anything to do with me or I come up with a belief that enables me to blame others for the facts. We are constantly being fed images of injustice, violence against others, great suffering, and acts of hatred on the world stage. There is no way we can take on all of the issues that are being presented to us daily through the media. However, if we look with wonder at all of it and recognize that it is all part of the great mystery of life we can at least have the presence of mind to pray for those who need our prayers. If we just sit in quiet meditation and pray for God’s/Love’s grace and mercy for those who suffer, pray for God’s/Love’s Divine intervention for those who cause suffering, pray for God’s/Love’s Divine healing for those whose minds or bodies are twisted with evil or disease, we will have extended the Love of God/Love outward, which, I believe, is all He/It asks of us.