What I love most about summer is the wonder of it all. Clear nights, bright stars and visible planets. The comforting rhythm of waves breaking upon the sand and receding only to do it again. Fish rising from the deep, shining and silver and reflecting the sun. Footprints in the sand. Fireflies. Mountain vistas. Ferns unfolding on the wooded floor. Tomatoes ripening in the backyard. Birds singing to summon the dawn.
The daily news is filled with conflict, argument, turmoil and terror, and daily life can be stressful as we shoulder all kinds of burdensome cares and concerns. Our hearts can break just paying attention to the pain and suffering endured by those we love and in a world of want and need. But summertime offers a respite if we pause and absorb the sheer splendor of the creation at every turn. Paying attention to wonder is not just an escape or antidote to the traumas of life; wonder nurtures our engagement as disciples of Christ in the world God so loves.
In the early 20th century, English novelist, playwright, essayist and poet, D. H. Lawrence grew concerned about the dehumanizing effects of industrialization and World War I. Reflecting on the vitality of the human spirit in the midst of a conflicted, rapidly changing and increasingly mechanized world, he wrote some memorable words about wonder:
When all comes to all, the most precious element in life is wonder. Love is a great emotion and power is power. But both love and power are based on wonder. Plant consciousness, insect consciousness, fish consciousness; animal consciousness; all are related by one permanent element, which we may call the religious element in all life, even in a flea: the sense of wonder. That is our sixth sense. And it is the natural religious sense.
I am committing myself to nurture my own sixth sense of wonder this summer. I hope that you will join me, so that we will be more spiritually grounded and grateful and thereby equipped to do the good work God is calling us to do.