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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wonder: The Essence of Childhood

Wonder is a combination of thought and emotion. It's a form of illumination. It rises from the center of our being, our need to know. Children are filled with wonder. Everything is new. The world appears to the child to be well organized. Seeking the connections within this organization is a constant mental activity. The child has to put the world together, one experience, one discovery at a time. She has to discover reality. Reality is learned through experience. Wonder is born from the realization that there is more to reality than what we see. What is the reality behind reality? When we realize that what we see isn't reality, and that there's a reality behind the reality we know, wonder ensues.

What is the main source of wonder? It's mystery. It's the unknown and feeling connected with the unknown, feeling oneness with mystery.

Wonder, connecting with the mystery of the unknown,  is a central component of childhood, one that tends to disappear as the child grows older. Adults may still have flashes of it, through which it manifests as inspiration, particularly through works of art. Unfortunately, many adults experience less and less wonder and inspiration as they grow older. Becoming "set in their ways" they stop growing. Life becomes rather humdrum, perhaps boring, and filled with passive living. Watching T.V. becomes a way of life. A little travel can re-leave the boredom. But coming home is returning to boredom.

Continuing to experience wonder, to be thrilled by mystery, as we grow older is a form of staying young (or growing young). It can be a central component of the older adult's life if we do not become 'set in our ways'. Not becoming set in our ways should become an objective for us all. It requires openness, honesty, and even courage. But the reward for this is to continue to experience the joy of wonder.

God's greatest gift to mankind is joy, and the joy found in wonder is the greatest joy of all.
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