4 Ways to Welcome Wonder on a Daily Basis
COMMENTARY: Taking a look at your days, you’ll discover your own ways to cultivate the gift of wonder and awe, rooted in our precious faith.
There is a growing movement online to live more intentionally. A quick Google search will provide many lists explaining how to accomplish this.
Suggestions range from “elevating” your morning coffee and lengthening your skincare routine to finding new ways to appreciate your commute, your home and even your loved ones.
Where the culture says “romanticize your life,” the Church — by way of the Holy Spirit — says “be filled with the gift of wonder and awe.”
By cultivating the gift of wonder and awe in our daily life, I believe we can achieve deeper peace, fuller relationships, and bring God greater glory by looking beyond ourselves to become more aware of God’s majesty. In doing so, our days feel more precious as we recognize the divine fingerprints that cover everything.
At our confirmation, we are given the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of wonder and awe. These gifts, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, are intended to “root us more deeply in the divine filiation, incorporate us more firmly into Christ, strengthen our bond with the Church, associate us more closely with her mission, and help us bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds” (1316).
By learning how to use these gifts, we can glorify God, bring fulfillment to our lives, and invite others to do the same.
Want to experience more wonder and awe? Start today. Here are some ideas how.
Stepping into nature, we are instantly surrounded by God’s creation and invited to experience him intimately through it.
To practice wonder and awe, actively notice the beauty of individual leaves on each tree limb, be fascinated by the sounds of the birds, and take delight in the colors of fall. All of creation sings of his majesty!
Or be like the saints — St. John Paul II loved to ski, as did St. Gianna Molla. Blessed Pier Giorgio liked to climb mountains. There is always enough time and space to be stirred by wonder.
As John Paul observed in a 2000 audience:
“So, in beholding the glory of the Trinity in creation, man must contemplate, sing and rediscover wonder. In contemporary society people become indifferent ‘not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder’ (G.K. Chesterton). For the believer, to contemplate creation is also to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice, as the ‘Psalm of the sun’ suggests: ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world’ (Psalm 19:1-5).
“Nature thus becomes a gospel which speaks to us of God: ‘from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator’ (Wisdom 13:5). Paul teaches us that ‘ever since the creation of the world his [God’s] invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made’ (Romans 1:20). But this capacity for contemplation and knowledge, this discovery of a transcendent presence in created things must lead us also to rediscover our kinship with the earth, to which we have been linked since our own creation (Genesis 2:7). This is precisely the goal which the Old Testament wished for the Hebrew Jubilee, when the land was at rest and man ate what the fields spontaneously gave him (Leviticus 25: 11-12).”
As St. Thérèse wrote in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, “I recall the days Papa used to bring us to the pavilion; the smallest details are impressed in my heart! I recall especially the Sunday walks when Mama used to accompany us. I still feel the profound and poetic impressions that were born in my soul at the sight of the fields enameled with cornflowers and all types of wild flowers. Already I was in love with the wide open spaces. Space and the gigantic fir trees, the branches sweeping down to the ground, left in my heart an impression similar to the one I experience today at the sight of nature.”
Do we actively acknowledging the person in front of us, looking for Christ in our brothers and sisters?
Praying for “divine encounters” throughout the day can be a helpful tool to draw awareness to the people the Lord invites us to meet. Trust that Christ is working intentionally.
If we acknowledge those around us, we can become a vessel of Christ’s joy. Mother Teresa had a simple way of doing this, “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.”
Prioritize little things that bring joy.
Our fast-paced culture often discourages prioritizing the little things that bring us deep joy, especially if they aren’t highly “productive” activities. But these things aid our well-being.
Do you love listening to music? Love baking? I have banana-pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins on repeat over here. What about reading, painting or long phone chats? Maybe you sew. St. Zélie Martin did. These interests are on your hearts for a reason. Find a way to embed tiny joys into the day’s precious minutes.
The more we do what we love, the more we lean into who we are. We are nourished and renewed by these activities, and we can find the Lord there, amid awe and wonder.
And be sure to encounter Christ in the Eucharist at Mass and in adoration. As Pope St. John Paul II noted in Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “Like the woman who anointed Jesus in Bethany, the Church has feared no ‘extravagance,’ devoting the best of her resources to expressing her wonder and adoration before the unsurpassable gift of the Eucharist.”
Taking a look at your days, you’ll discover your own ways to cultivate the gift of wonder and awe. Our normality becomes increasingly fascinating as we grow in awareness of all the places the Spirit lingers, among creation and our fellow sojourners.
As St. Gianna Molla said, “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that he, in his goodness, sends to us day after day.”
Come, Holy Spirit, fill us with wonder!
Bridget McCartney Nohara, a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, writes from Ontario, Canada.