Wonder for Writing – A New Year Resolution

Brennan Manning quote

“Our world is saturated with grace, and the lurking presence of God is revealed not only in spirit but in matter – in a deer leaping across a meadow, in the flight of an eagle, in fire and water, in a rainbow after a summer storm, in a gentle doe streaking through a forest, in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in a child licking a chocolate ice cream cone, in a woman with windblown hair. God intended for us to discover His loving presence in the world around us.” – Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

The gift of writing is a certain grace, and it begins – in many ways – with a sense of wonder. A writer takes in the sweetness of the world, and the pain, the joy and the sorrow, the windblown moments of awe and the heart-catching times of silence. The task, the duty, the privilege of a writer is to see it all. To look upon the beauty and the shame of the world and of us who live within it, and write with wonder and fearlessness for the sake of that world. For the sake of us who live within it.

Writing, and those words written, are a dispensation of wonder … or they can be. When the words are riveted with grace, fastened with that ever-deepening sense of awe and gratitude, the result is beauty for the world. A ray of light. Of truth. But it begins with eyes open, and a heart seeking the sweet exchange of God and nature. Seeing His fingerprint, ever so lightly, tracing all things within the world. The opening and closing of a blue butterfly’s wings as it rests upon a daisy. A stone beneath the ripples of a stream, its colors brought to life by the waters. A child’s trusting smile at the promise of a loving parent. A writer is beckoned to move slowly enough through the world to see these things, to reflect on the story whispering beneath the sight, and to write of them.

A New Year begins. It begins when I feel as if the past year has charged past without me having taken stock of it. But it is gone. So many moments of raw beauty and wordless wonder passed by. How many did I miss with my eyes closed, or my gaze fastened upon the weight of my daily tasks and concerns? Too many. Too many for a writer who feels the beckoning of truth and light and wonder and grace … but only when I stop and take the time to truly look and listen and see.

A New Year begins, and it begins with the desire to see the world with wonder anew. For my sake and for the sake of my children and husband. For the sake of a God of love, who dispenses cupfuls of color and joy and laughter at every step of nature and asks us to behold His glory. And to measure it out freely to the world. The measure of a writer is her words.

God, this year, let my words, my thoughts, my writings and my deeds, whisper the weight of Your glory and love, and bring glory to You. It begins with a sense of wonder at all You do and all You are. Let me move slowly, breathlessly enough to see Your works with eyes of awe and gratefulness for all that You are. Amen.


Swept up in Glory

At some point in each of our lives, we were deeply touched by a profound encounter with Jesus Christ. It was a mountaintop experience, a moment of immense consolation. We were swept up in peace, joy, certitude, love. Quite simply, we were overcome. Our minds and hearts resonated with awe and wonder.

We … eventually returned to the routine occupations of our daily existence. … Slowly we got caught up in the demands of ministry or career and the distractions our busy world offers. … We had become preoccupied with something else, even though it was far less life-giving and captivating. It is possible we may never love anyone as much as we loved him, but even the memory has grown dim.

… The presence of Jesus grows more and more remote. “Thorns and thistles choke the unused path.” A verdant heart becomes a devastated vineyard. … The paltriness of our lives is mute testimony to the shabby furniture of our souls. – Brennan Manning “The Ragamuffin Gospel”

No one can live swept up in wonder. Not for the long term. It’s too taxing. Too time-consuming. We simply do not have time. … or do we? Perhaps that perceived lack of time is the problem.

Two mornings in a row, as I drove the kids to school, we headed east on the usual street we travel. But this past week has been rainy, unusual for the Central Valley. We crested a small overpass to the sight of snow-capped mountains shining against the horizon. Clouds misted the sky gray and blue, except for the eastern edge where mountains shone gold beneath the rising sun. It was beautiful. Awe-inspiring. I oohed and awed along with the kids.

Then our minivan descended the hill, I swung a right, and we drove to school. To work. To the real world. If I could have, I would have stopped on the side of the road and feasted on the sight. Better yet, if I could have, I would have continued driving east until we were out of the city, with no buildings to block our view of the glorious morning. Maybe straight on into those snowy mountains for a day of fun and wonder.

But I couldn’t. The kids had school. I had work. Then classes. The day swept along until it was over. The next moment I had to take a breath was on the bus returning from university after dark that evening. I was tired. Looked forward to getting home, eating dinner, and getting to bed.

It seems there is so little time for awe. For wonder. Even for beauty.

Even so, it beckons. It waits. It is always there. In a glorious sunrise or a peaceful sunset. In a blossom-laden tree or a brilliant rosebud. In a clear view to snowy peaks or the sound of waves washing clean a distant beach. If we look, if we listen, wonder is everywhere in nature.

As though a God of beauty and passion and forgiveness, a God of love, lines the path of our days with invitations to wonder. As though, beyond and within each of the creations He sets along the path, He is there, asking us to stop, to look, to enjoy and appreciate. To see Him and be swept up in the glory of His presence.

“Without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). He brings light and life, meaning and purpose to every moment. If only to behold the splendor of life … and see His glory within all things.