There is something about the passing of years that dulls our capacity for wonder. Call it a loss of naïveté. Or a healthy dose of realism. However, I would suggest that somewhere between childhood and adulthood we may lose far more than we bargained for. For kids, a fallen leaf is a wonder to behold; for us, another gardening chore. For children, a bug is an opportunity to squat down, to touch, perhaps even to taste; for us, a pest to be rid of. For little ones, time is savored—they don’t seem to be in any particular hurry, at least when we are; for us, time must be feverishly manipulated, managed, and controlled.
A case in point: when was the last time you truly appreciated, say, your hands? Think of that bundle of nerves and capillaries, the interweaving of tendons, muscles, and bones, the uniqueness of each fingerprint. Ponder all the human hand can do: build homes, paint masterpieces, play concertos, convey love (or hate!), lift weights, drive a car, type an e-mail, throw a ball, give a high five, and much more. At some point or another, the miracle of the human hand becomes “merely.”
John Killinger cautions us against such loss of wonder: “Somewhere along the way, everything becomes merely—it is merely water or merely snow or merely fire or merely leaves or merely sand or merely matter. It no longer points us to the creator. It is merely what it is, and no more. How sad!”
One of the invitations of the story of Christ’s birth is the call to cultivate our sense of wonder. Christmas points us beyond the “merely.” It is an annual reminder of importance of seeing the miraculous in our midst, particularly in the coming of Christ into our world. “How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given,” goes the Christmas carol, as if to warn us, “If you’re not paying attention, you may well miss it.” Christmas says, “Wait a minute! What if you slowed down and looked more deeply into things?” May your Christmas be filled with wonder, a wonder born not of naïveté but of the realization that this baby born in Bethlehem and wrapped in swaddling clothes is none other than the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Love in Christ,
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