There Has Been No Loss of Wonders, Only a Loss of Wonder – A Brief Summons to Awe

wonderA big problem today is that of rampant boredom. One would think, with all the diversions available to us, we would be one of the least bored generations in history. There are various forms of entertainment available to us quite literally at our fingertips: television, radio, the Internet, Netflix, video games, and more.

Yet it still seems that we moderns are often bored. The reason for this, I think, is that we are overstimulated.

The loud and frantic pace of even our recreational activities leaves most of us incapable of appreciating the subtler, gentler, and more hidden things of life.

Dale Ahlquist, the great commentator on G.K. Chesterton, writes,

There is no excuse for being bored. … And yet the modern world is bored. … Our entertainment grows louder, flashier, and more bizarre in ever more desperate attempts just to keep our attention.

As G.K. Chesterton proclaims (in Tremendous Trifles, p.7): “The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder.” There are no dreary sites, he declares, only dreary sightseers (Common Sense 101, p. 27).

Boredom is a problem on the inside. And happiness, too, is an inside job. We should all seek the great gifts of wonder and awe. We should strive to appreciate God’s glories and wonders, which are on display at every moment: in everything we see and in everyone we encounter.

But the gift of wonder also depends on other gifts, in particular, humility and gratitude.

Ahlquist further writes,

The key to happiness and the key to wonder is humility. … Humility means being small enough to see the greatness of something and to feel unworthy of it, and privileged to be able to enjoy it (Common Sense 101, p. 33).

Consider well the meaning of this wonderful yet simple reflection, and the relationship between humility, wonder, and gratitude. Yes, to be humble is to feel unworthy of the glories that are ever before us, to wonder at them and to feel privileged just to be permitted to enjoy them.

Indeed, even the word “consider” invites us to a kind of awestruck and grateful mysticism. The word “consider” comes from the Latin words cum (with) and sidera (stars), so that its literal roots convey “with the stars.”  In other words, to consider something is to think upon it, regard it, and gaze upon it with the wonder with which one would look at the night sky filled with stars!

So, “consider” well the glories that are on display for us every moment and behold them with humility, wonder, and gratitude.

4 Replies to “There Has Been No Loss of Wonders, Only a Loss of Wonder – A Brief Summons to Awe”

  1. I am convinced mankind becomes bored when their focus is only on mankind and mankind’s inventions. Yesterday I was out in the yard to prepare a fence for painting. As I was working I began to notice the spring flowers pushing their way up through the dirt – hundreds of lilies of the valley plants emerging, only an inch or so showing yet; the tulips are budded, the peonies are sending up their stalks, the trees are putting out buds, the grass is greening up. And all around life is singing. The cardinals and robins are calling out from the treetops, looking for a mate. One cardinal was so loud I had to look up to see what the commotion was about!

    I was not bored. I was fascinated at the beauty and the detail and life bursting out all around me. Praise God. His creation is never boring.

  2. I love that you used an image of a telescope aimed at the Milky Way to illustrate your article. I am an amateur astronomer (stargazer) myself, and some of the most awe-filled moments I experience are the hours I spend at the eyepiece of my telescope, searching out the incredible wonders right over our heads. What is amazing is that they are there for everyone to see, yet so few people bother to look up, and see the incredible beauty over out heads.

    And you don’t need to travel hundreds of miles to get away from our omnipresent light pollution. The Moon and the planets can be observed from anywhere. I live in the very center of downtown Baltimore, and I can take in the craters of the Moon, the wonders of Jupiter, the mysterious markings on Mars, the beauty of Venus and Mercury, and the incomprehensible distance of Uranus and Neptune from the middle of the city!

    And yes, taking in the wonder of the universe is slo-o-o-ow.. not at all like your average shoot-em-up, explosion filled action thriller. But oh, is it ever so much more rewarding!

  3. I find that I am bored when the back of my mind wants to do something specific that I just can’t figure out at the moment. The second someone suggests that activity my boredom’s gone and I go do whatever it was I really wanted to do but couldn’t quite think of.

  4. Bob, i look in the other direction. It is most intense this time of the year when I catch site of one of my perenials pushing the dirt out of the way to feel the son. What can be wrong with a man who finds his heart skip with excitement simply seeing a small flower come from the earth. Such a delight. Must be a God.

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