Close your eyes….
Now open them.
“Are you crazy?” you may be asking…Please hang with me for a minute…
This week we’ll focus on another element of margin:
The spiritual discipline of simply opening your eyes afresh, looking for a miracle or blessing, every day. Dr. Matthew Sleeth says, “I can tell you from experience that if you don’t look, you will not find them. And if you don’t jot them down, you will forget them.”
In Blessed Earth’s most recent newsletter (www.blessedearth.org ), Matthew discusses Spring’s arrival, bringing with it “dogwoods singing out with their living Celtic crosses, all served up on a plate of viridian green. It’s easy to spot miracles when the entire hemisphere comes to life—but really they are everywhere, and all the time.”
This beautiful “window” into a garden was a surprise find to us one night at Chateau Kierwan, near Pauillac, France where we had dinner. Magnificent discovery!
Matthew recommends an experiment to try for just one month: “Every day take note of (or a photo of) just one miracle. On Sunday, spend a little time reviewing the list. Then thank God…We do not need more wonders—just a greater sense of wonderment.” Wander with Wonder.
Matthew is an expert on Sabbath keeping, learning about it the hard way just as Mark Buchanan did. His book, 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life is a must-read. (I wrote about it last year: Get Over the Guilt and Grab a Nap—Beating Busyness: Part 4 of 4)
Ann Voskamp is another advocate of looking for blessings and writing them down. Her book is also a must-read: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. She maintains writing down your blessings, small or large, creates contentment many times we’d otherwise forget.
Gratitude, giving thanks, along with a vocabulary “full of grace” fulfills our soul and multiplies joy. John Piper offers, “There are eyes in pencils and in pens.” Friends, let’s open our eyes! Wander with wonder!
My favorite quote from Ann addresses “the cure against thanklessness’s bite: The remedy is in the retina. How we behold determines if we hold joy. Behold glory and be held by God.”
William Shakespeare said, “Thou art alive still—While thy booke doth live and we have wits to read and praise to give.”
Walking across a bridge over the Seine River in Paris, near the magnificent Notre Dame, John and I happily landed in front of Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. Now that would go down in one’s gratitude journal if one were a book lover like yours truly! Books are in every nook and cranny in this charming bookstore. Wander with wonder.
Note the brand-new umbrella adorned with Eiffel Towers (Can you say, “tourist”???) we snagged for a mere seven Euros. Ah, but it kept us dry and better able to keep our eyes ready for more wonderment.
Let’s return to Mark Buchanan’s book The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. Mark touches on our subject of wandering with wonder when he says, “I don’t want to just carry on. I want to learn more and more to practice, here, now, always, the quality of awareness that I knew…I want to learn to pass through a day without passing it by.”
Mark says, “The essence of Sabbath is paying attention. It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment. “
You won’t believe this from Chapter 3: “Louis Aggasiz, Harvard’s renowned biologist, returned one September to his classroom and announced to his students that he had spent the summer traveling. He had managed, he said, to get halfway across his backyard. To those with eyes to see, that’s enough. Everywhere we turn, wonders never cease.” Wander with wonder.
Aboard the fast TGV enroute to Paris from Bordeaux, John and I saw field, after field, after field of rapeseed. While this was a cloudy day and we took this picture thru’ the window of the train, you can get an idea of the brilliant yellow hues that stood out like sunshine in the countryside.
Mark gives an analogy, that, while laugh-out-loud funny, slightly stings: “One day is as good as another for practicing this kind of attentiveness. We all know people so self-absorbed and obtuse that they would miss the apocalypse if it happened in their living rooms.” Been there. Sigh…
And, here are just a few of Mark’s killer questions I promised you last week:
“Does the path I’m walking lead to a place I want to go?
If I keep heading this way, will I like where I arrive?
How much do I care about the things I care about?
And how have I grown content…?”
May we do as 2 Corinthians 10:5 which says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Watching for miracles, blessings, and wandering with wonder is the best way to do that.
Mark recommends, “Consider your ways. That’s a wise Sabbath Liturgy. And let me make it more specific: consider your thoughts and attitudes.”
Mark shares a wonderful scene from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, part of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles. “The children Peter, Edmond, Susan and Lucy all find themselves in Narnia after a long absence from Aslan, the great king and lion.” Lucy is who finds him first with great emotion and relief:
Aslan says, “Welcome, child.”
“Aslan,” says Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
Mark says, “That’s a perfect description of those who train themselves in God’s goodness and sovereignty: Every year you grow, you find him bigger. The best way I know to embody this Godward orientation is thankfulness.”
After visiting the Luxembourg Gardens, John and I happened upon St. Sulpice Church. They were in the middle of a church service. The hush over the crowd in the candlelit cavernous altar was awe-inspiring.
Attendees didn’t just genuflect, they fully, deliberately knelt prior to finding a spot on a pew which made our visit amazingly worshipful. Prayers, songs and a message in French was beyond beautiful. This was one of many gifts we found along our walk that day.
Here’s the outside of the church. It’s modeled after St. Paul’s in London…Wonder-filled architectural details.
May we all wander in the wonder.
‘Til next time!