The Sense of Awe and Wonder

19 August 2006: Saturday of the 19th Week in Ordinary TimeMatthew 19, 13-15: The Sense of Awe and Wonder

When we are preoccupied by the things we do, we do not notice the things around us or we take for granted the people we are always with. How many of you, for example, has stopped the past week just to look at the sunset? In a week, I have spent a large part of the day in the office or in the classroom or in the studio. Often, I realize that the sun has set or that the day passed without me noticing the time. The other day, I decided to leave the Jesuit Music Ministry office at 4 PM, went up the roof deck of the Loyola School of Theology and looked out at the Marikina valley below. It has been a while since I have done that. I have lost some sense of awe and wonder that children have.

Rachel Carson said, “If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from our sources of strength.”

It is no wonder that the saints with profound love for God like Sts. Ignatius, Augustine, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and Francis of Assisi did not lose their sense of awe and wonder. Perhaps, today, it is good to look at our development as persons. Should all things possible be empirical, palpably felt, or sensed? Should things be always logical and reasonable? One of the episodes in the first season of Smallville had Clark Kent save Lex Luthor from a vehicular accident. After the accident, Lex would try to find an explanation --- employing scientists and analysts. When Lex and Jonathan Kent, Clark’s father, were able to pull off a conversation, Jonathan asked Lex why he employed scientists and analysts. Lex said that that incident was a miracle. And Jonathan answered that not all things in life needed an explanation. One just had to believe.

And so today, as Jesus put his heart in children, we too must have children’s hearts: a heart that puts a large space for miracles and for the unexplainable. And how do we do that? By regaining what we all have when we started living: the sense of awe and the sense of wonder. Thus, it is no surprise that Jesus said that the Kingdom of God belongs to children.

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