In my experience, wonder is so intricately tied to the magic of miracles. A dictionary definition of wonder is: “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable”. Isn’t this also the essence of a miracle? Of magic? These daily gifts of wonder (aka calling cards) that come to us from Our Great Mother, cause us to pause, and allow us to recognize Her presence all over again, each time.
When wonder happens for me, it is like a portal opens, and time slows or stops. My jaw drops, and my eyes open wide with a realization, a connection, an intuitive knowing. Goosebumps often raise on my skin, and a general feeling of heightened aliveness washes over me. A subtle shift takes me to a place where I see, feel, and know life more deeply; know Her presence, know my own divinity, know the sacredness of everything in a new or deeper way than my mind usually allows me to. These are the moments that feed my deepest heart’s desire – to know and allow Her Life Force – Her Love – truly and deeply with every ounce of my Being. Perhaps I am a Wonder Junkie.
Wonder comes to me in many different sizes – but it is the smallest bits of wonder that are constantly happening that get missed the most. So often I get busy, caught up in my to do list, moving too quickly or caught up in some drama or another, and something shuts down. Does my heart close its receptors? Does my mind take over and jump into the future or the past? Does my body forget to feel? Do my emotions flood my wonder channel? Do I forget to be grateful?
Then of course, I add salt to the wound by judging myself for not being able to BE in gratitude and be present, for not being able to always see the wonder that is happening all around me. My prayer communities are such welcome bear dens for all the messy, muddled, cranky and beautiful parts of myself, as I learn deeper compassion and how to just allow my beingness. Wonder seems to be something our Great Mother has given us to know. Not a specific thing to know, but a state of being to know. Everyday wonder fed by gratitude and being present.
Sometimes wonder comes completely unexpectedly and sometimes it can be encouraged. Unexpected wonder certainly came to me when two snakes visited my house in less than two days this past week – one of them in my dining room! This kind of wonder was mixed with a lot of adrenaline and was a little (or a lot!) disconcerting, so I didn’t feel the wonder until later, wondering what it all meant.
We can’t create or predict wonder, but we can cultivate the ability to receive it. The best way for me to create a setting for wonder to happen, is to wander in the forest and settle into the forest’s rhythm. I love the similarity of the two words, wonder and wander – and it doesn’t seem like an accident. If we slow down and wander as aimlessly as possible, we can maximize the potential of encountering wonder. And since I was wondering, I had to look it up. Seems the two words – wonder and wander – were NOT originally related but did become closely intertwined in Middle English.
But back to the forest. On a recent hot summer day in August – you know the type – the sun was hot, the air moderately humid, a light breeze blowing, and all the plants were putting every last ounce of energy they had into making their seeds. The word languid was born in August. Stillness. Even the water in the stream was moving so slowly that there was barely a ripple and a leaf on the surface only inched its way along. The wonder really stepped up to the plate when I encountered several dragonflies with gorgeous black wings and fluorescent green bodies, one of whom sat very still on a log with me in the middle of the stream. And with the aid of my camera, I met an upside-down tree lady – with her head in the ground (her roots) and her feet reaching for the sky. Just magical. Two fawns bounding across the stream in front of me over the only flowers nearby, while the ferns swayed gently in the dappled sunlight, were all part of the multiple wonders that day that helped me reconnect to Mama Earth.
Despite how much I love the forest wonders, my biggest moments of wonder have always happened with people. They are never predictable though, and often include the risk of being vulnerable or hurt or even shamed. The wonder of when we can allow ourselves to open to another, to be vulnerable enough to share our heart’s desire with another, to share our fears – these are HUGE gifts of wonder.
When Mary and Elizabeth came together in the Mystery of the Visitation, their Wonder would surely have been the essence of the miracle of their visit. Their shared stories must have overflowed their hearts to the bursting point. Prayer and meditation circles are much the same, exponentially multiplying our shared prayers and filling us with Wonder.
What else is Wonder but the recognition of the deep Life Force of Love that is Great Mother emanating into our lives, our very Being? A visitation indeed.