A Daily Dose of Wonder

by | Mar 19, 2023 | Seeds eNewsletter

Trees reaching out to each other at Crater Lake, Oregon
THIS WEEK I WATCHED AN EPISODE of “The Nature of Things” called the “Intelligence of Trees.” It was a fascinating account of how academic studies are finding that trees—through their root systems—are communicating with one another. They are sending out messages of impending danger from disease and harmful insects to the community so that others can be strengthened to resist these attacks. There are mother trees that are tending to the saplings. Forests are a dynamic community that needs diversity of trees for the health of all. Forest monocultures are more fragile and vulnerable. In the documentary, “What Trees Talk About” trees are described as having “a highly sociable nature and a penchant for generosity, allowing them to form vibrant communities.”

As I watched and listened, I was swept up in amazement and awe. I felt myself being gently lifted from the everyday-ness of my concerns as I was drawn into the wonder and mystery of this unseen world. The next day when I got to plant our peas and lettuce, I noticed that I was looking at all the plants in new and appreciative ways. I was musing about if I had surrounded them with their companion plants for community. I’m sure I don’t have a clue about all the wonder that surrounds us all the time. But letting a wavelet of it wash over me felt restorative and healing. I was grinning. I see that this new-for-me understanding is creating a new facet in my awareness and perceptions. And it feels great. It feels like an important antidote to our fevered world.

I don’t know about other times in history, but I am sure we are all living in a time of great upheaval. Culturally. Politically. Religiously. Environmentally. For folks like you and me that are trying to be aligned and faithful to God who invites us to join Life, it is exhausting and often bewildering. Few things seem to stay solid under our feet. The burden and expectation that we can all “fix” things past and present are crushing. At the same time, the ways we have found solutions in the past are being systematically dismantled. We are living in liminality in the extreme.

However, life in tough times is not new. I’m sure it was no walk in the park to be living in the Jewish state under the Roman rule. Being a follower of Christ could get you killed by friends or foes alike. Yet, it the midst of persecution, oppression and precarious life circumstances, Paul tells the Philippians to shift their focus and fill their minds and hearts with whatsoever things are good. (Philippians 4:8) His advice wasn’t a way to deny and ignore tough realities. Rather it was the way to be able to sustain energy and resilience for the tasks that are ours. It called folks to be living witnesses that we, too, belong to a vibrant, generous community of God that makes us sturdy.

Desmond Tutu SmilingIt strikes me that we all can use a generous dose of wonder and mystery that draws us out of the constancy of our worries and pain. This may happen serendipitously, but it makes good sense to intentionally immerse ourselves in wonder. The wonder of nature. The wonder of the deep, deep love of God. The wonder of the person sitting next to you. The wonder of yourself—made in the image of God. I’m guessing that it is possible that you and I—like Desmond Tutu—could also have that wonderful, infectious laughter and appreciation as we continue to do our part to change the world.