Stalking Wonder- A Path Taken

A Path Taken

Stalking Wonder*.
Doesn’t that sound like a noble pursuit?  It has the tinge of both the hunter and the poet about it. Of all the things that we stalk- a happy marriage, good books, comfortable shoes, the perfect tomato, a good cup of coffee, a rewarding career- I think wonder is among the most neglected.  Perhaps because it is wonderfully non-essential to life. A person could go along perfectly well, happy even, without it. There is no physical need to pause in a chunk of warm sunlight before passing on. But there is little doubt that life becomes more pleasurable with such moments.

I don’t mean to imply that wonder is synonymous with pleasure, although the concepts do overlap. Pleasure, while certainly a force to be reckoned with, tends to be one sided.  For those of you with highly developed theologies of pleasure who are already arguing with me, hear me out. Pleasure, as conventionally understood, focuses on my sensations.  Like when enjoying the hot water pounding on my back in the shower, I have no thought for the people and systems that bring that hot water to me everyday. While not necessarily harmful, pleasure is at most benignly selfish.

Wonder, on the other hand, implies a meeting of spirits. It fosters an awareness of lives beyond just me. Sometimes an awareness of human lives, of course. Like finding an old book with many dog-eared pages, witness to the fact the someone else has gone before me. But more often what wonders me is an awareness of the fact that there is a whole system that, while welcoming my active participation, does not necessarily rely on it. Like finding the vigorous patch of clover in a corner of my yard with the unseen slug trail across it. My morning was enriched by noticing the path the slug took, but no harm would have come to the slug or clover if I had overlooked it. Wonder reminds me not only that this system exists, but that I am in a relationship with it. By which I mean our lives are dependent on the other’s health. And, like Wendell Berry has said, of our two lives, mine is meant to be the shorter and therefore more conservative. This wonder reminds me that the world is not my oyster, but that the oyster is my world.

Granted, such thoughts seem a little intense to come from pausing in a chunk of sunlight or noticing a slug trail on clover. But intentionally pausing for such thoughts, even stalking them, I find helps me peer through the weave of my selfishness, which is a wonder-ful thing in itself.  In an attempt to become more adept at stalking, I intend to post a picture that inspires wonder in me each week. Please feel free to add your own stories of stalking (and perhaps capturing) wonder.

*Christmas seems an appropriate time of year to have discovered such a phrase. And discover it I did; it’s not my own creation. I come to it third hand.  I stumbled across it in the blog Tea and Cookies, who, it seems, purloined it from Jennifer Jeffrey, a writer and editor in San Francisco.

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Posted in Uncategorized 14 years, 4 months ago at 6:39 pm.

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