In April, when I flew home from Florida, I was surrounded by kids. And I mean directly in front of me, behind me and beside me. Which is sometimes bad news and can mean constant crying on an airplane – but what stuck out to me was the cute little girl in the seat ahead of me. She looked to be about 3 years old and she kept leaning over and pressing her hands up to the window while looking down as we flew over Orlando.
Now I think looking out a window during take off is pretty cool, but seeing the look of pure wonder on her face reminded me that I want to walk though my life with that perspective. I admired how the clouds captivated her and considered this; How many times a day do I feel wonder?
Wonders of The World
I tried googling “The Seven Wonders of the World” for this blog post and it gave me so many options. Did I mean the ancient world? The ecological wonders of the world? The seven most remarkable civil engineering feats of the 20th century? Or the seven wonders of the medieval world? I had no idea there were so many lists to choose from!
It goes to show, we live in a pretty wonderful world. So why don’t we always feel like it?
Because bad days happen, break ups and fights with best friends happen, conflict raging around the world happen. We get stressed about things in our lives and it puts blinders on us. When we don’t feel wonderful, we don’t feel like taking the time to admire the little wonders that happen around us everyday. Maybe we even feel like there isn’t anything wonderful where we live because it hasn’t made some fancy list declaring that it is a wonder to be celebrated.
It is okay to not feel great or happy all day everyday. In fact, that’s pretty normal and I don’t think anyone does. But wonder isn’t defined as something happy, it is more of a feeling of admiration. I like to think of it as curiosity combined with gratitude. When you see something beautiful or unexpected you experience a feeling of wonder. It is about marveling at something bigger than yourself, taking in some kind of beauty or experience, and being thankful for it.
When I think about wonder, I think about faith. Having my breath taken away by something beautiful also seems like a good time to give thanks to the God who created this world. The moments where we are awestruck by beauty are moments when we recognized how great and wonderful this world truly is.
A couple of weeks ago I travel to New Jersey and New York to visit friends. Being in New York City felt especially surreal, and I tried to follow the model of that little girl from my flight home from Orlando by allowing myself to be in awe, feeling wonder, and pausing often to marvel at the world around me.
As we drove out of the Lincoln Tunnel and into the city I exclaimed to my friends “The buildings are SO tall!!”, “There are so many more trees than I thought there would be!!!”, “Guys, we’re in NEW YORK!!!!”. It took me at least a full day to be chill about how it felt to be in one of the most iconic cities in the world.
Walking through Time’s Square, riding the Staten Island Ferry toward a glimmering New York City skyline at night, wandering through city streets and neighbourhoods in Lower Manhattan and visiting parks I had only ever seen in movies almost felt like a fairytale come to life. If you consider Friends, You’ve Got Mail or Breakfast at Tiffany’s fairy tales I suppose.
The whole trip was wonderful, and I mean that in the sense that I felt so filled with wonder. I had a constant feeling that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We live in such an amazing and awe inspiring world! Each time I travel I feel grateful that I get to explore another glimpse of it.
In New York I saw a lot of amazing things and but one thing I will probably never get over the sunset from the Empire State Building. A combination of perfect timing getting there, ideal weather and dreamy clouds made it an beautiful sunset from an incredible perspective. Standing 86 floors in the air, looking down at the big city I felt like that little girl who I sat behind, so full of awe and wonder.
Wonders In Your Own Backyard
It might feel like you need to be a jet-setter to expereince the wonders of the world, but that simply isn’t true.
In the song What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong famously sang;
I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
I see skies of blue and clouds of whiteThe bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
It is pretty common to pack your bags and travel great distances to see wonder around the world, far away from your back yard. Being out of our ordinary lives is a reminder of the wonders in our world that we aren’t used to seeing, but it certainly isn’t the only way to experience wonder. It’s just a sign that we’ve begun to stop taking notice of the wonders we experience daily.
Green trees and red roses and blue skies are fairly ordinary, but the perspective of curiosity and gratitude allow us to look at our surroundings with wonder and appreciate the world that has been created for us. Whether or not you’re a spiritual person, taking time to pause at the many wonders in our day to day lives is healthy and keeps you in a perspective of being thankful and appreciating how cool, complex and beautiful the world is, and that we are just one small part of it.
A challenge for you this week is to find something that fills you with wonder. To be intentional about pausing to appreciate things that might seem ordinary to you. Try to take fresh eyes to your regular life and find wonder in the small details you might be overlooking.