“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. 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 the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.” —From The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson
It’s been at least 25 years—maybe more—since I first read this book. My soul leapt with joy as I recognized this defining characteristic of myself, one I could never identify and passed off as many other things over the years. The fact that I never wanted to grow up. The fact that I write for children. The fact that my children were young, and I was relating to them. I was an adult and still had this “quirk”
There it was, confirming my way of life as a good thing, not an immaturity or a defect. It was okay, even desirable, to maintain this childlike, not childish, way of looking at life, and I wouldn’t want to live any other way. Being able to observe everything around me with the eyes of a child gives me great joy and awe at the wonders surrounding me, no matter where I am or my circumstances. Jesus himself encouraged us to maintain that childlike sense of wonder in our faith and relationship to him.
This past weekend was a perfect example. My dear friend, Susan, (one who also lives life with wonder and awe) and I took a weekend trip to Coudersport, deep in the Allegheny Mountains, where there was a meeting of fans of Margaret Suttons’s beloved children’s book series, the Judy Bolton mysteries. While Susan had gone in previous years, this was my first time. As a children’s writer and childhood reader of Judy Bolton, it was pure joy to visit the places where Margaret Sutton grew up and drew much of the inspiration for her books from the surrounding area and events that occurred there.
But in addition to that, I couldn’t drink in enough of the vibrant colors of the changing leaves, each tableau different from the one just passed. Rows of water droplets from the early morning rain outlined bare tree branches just above a branch of dancing, dazzling red leaves. The welcome I received at private homes where I was treated as a long-lost family member filled me with warmth. The starkness of the failed Austin Dam contrasted with the beauty of the trees and wildflowers that have grown around and even in the cracks of the crumbling cement structure. Even in the sad, derelict, abandoned church we explored, Susan discovered a Bible by the still-in-place lectern open to the passages we are currently studying in our weekly women’s Bible study. I marveled at everything.
I challenge you to re-open your eyes of childhood. Remember what it felt like to begin each day with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Expect to see wonders all around you. Discover that the ordinary is, in reality, truly extraordinary—and it is still there, just as it was when you were young. And revel in the wonder and awe of it all.