I so often look at the familiar forgetting how little we understand of life and how many miraculous, unexplainable, beautiful things surround me.
Having children (I just had my third baby eight weeks ago) is one of those life experiences that brings me face to face with the miracle of life again and again. How did this new baby, so beautiful and intricate, suddenly arrive in our family? I took no part in forming her fine features or molding her complex brain.
Luckily my three and five year old boys are around to ask me enough questions that I am always reassessing how much I really know about the world around me, and how much wonder can be found merely in our own garden.
Why is it that we lose our wonder as adults? G.K. Chesterton, one of the great English writers of the 20th century, once said that “We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders”. And children are such a great antidote to that.
Poetry also often seeks to make the familiar less so, and William Wordsworth’s first sonnet also seems to suggest that children cause us to wonder at the divine (he wrote it about time spent with his nine year old daughter).
It is a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquility;
The gentleness of heaven broods o'er the Sea;
Listen! the mighty Being is awake,
And doth with his eternal motion make
A sound like thunder—everlastingly.
Dear child! dear Girl! that walkest with me here,
If thou appear untouched by solemn thought,
Thy nature is not therefore less divine:
Thou liest in Abraham's bosom all the year;
And worshipp'st at the Temple's inner shrine,
God being with thee when we know it not.
As Ireland debates constitutional abortion reform this week, one can't help but consider whether those who are championing reform have lost some of their wonder for the baby growing within a mother's womb. Despite how little we really know about the world around us, we like to think that we can control things. Giving us heart about our inability to do so, Chesterton also wrote “An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered”.