A phenomenon has appeared on the market recently. This product contains black and white pages, which display patterns and sketches, waiting for color to flood their forms.
Coloring books. Geared toward adults. Simple, beautiful, childlike.
Remember grasping a new crayon? Feeling the gentle pressure of your hand to the page? The surge of pleasure at the sight of an exotic color in the box? The surge of coloring book sales indicates that we are yearning to experience this joy again.
Since we left our childhood, we have roamed in search of replacements for our playthings. We sold our stuffed animals and bought responsibilities. We left our building blocks, and gained stuffy desks and tight shoes. We forsook the tea sets and Tonka trucks, and tackled tax forms and paycheck stubs.
We forgot to bring our wonder with us into adulthood.
A quick Google search of the word, “wonder”, provides us with a straightforward definition. Wonder: a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.
As we grow older, we often only associate with familiar faces, try to live up to what people expect of us, and focus on the negative. We are boxed in by our own restrictions. Our necks suffer from looking at our phones. Our minds ache with the influx of pointless information from the Internet. Our faces are pinched with the strain of bills, kids, jobs, education, and the economy of the world. William Wordsworth, a poet in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s, penned the words:
“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon.”
I commiserate with Mr. Wordsworth. Our hearts are hard and chipped and ragged. We know how to criticize and cut each other down. We are strong in condemnation and weak in admiration. One need only listen to the politicians debating to understand that we are masters at undermining and defeating each other. The news only focuses on the horrible things humans attempt to afflict on other humans. Indeed, we have drifted far from Eden.
In the beginning, God moved upon the waters, and the Spirit brought life to all creation. The dance began as God wove together animals, put the stars in place, and formed Adam from the dust. Creativity, inspiration, and joy abounded. Energy burst forth in sparks that resounded all through the earth. Then, God rested to enjoy His work. To sit in wonder at it.
The wonder of Eden beckons us.
Deep in our souls, we know we were made to experience more than a dusty office or dim warehouse of work.
When I was 15 years old, we lived next door to an elderly couple in our small village in Germany. Johann taught my brother, David, and I to plant a garden. We watched lettuce, carrots, and sunflowers grow. Yet we could never master tomatoes quite like Johann. His plants always produced bright-red, plumb tomatoes that popped in your mouth. More than once, I observed Johann bend over the plants, his white hair frizzed out and waving in the wind, and sneak a cherry tomato in his mouth. He would close his eyes as though in prayer. A small smile would form on his lips. Fresh produce enchanted him.
I learned to marvel at tomatoes from Johann.
These days, I’m marveling over a few ideas, people, and experiences I’ve had in my life. I’m tired of the dry, stagnant life I’ve been enduring, so I’m opening my eyes a little wider to peer at the wonders around me.
Here’s what I’m in awe of:
In the plaza across the street from my work, the trees are shooting forth green buds, awakening to life from winter’s death grip.
When I climb stairs, my heart rhythmically beats a steady, “Thump, thump, thump.”
Every 35 days, the outer layer of my skin replaces itself. I’m like a human version of a snake. (Actually every human does. Sit with that for a while.)
When a meal is served, and people gather to eat, a divine connection happens. Energy is exchanged. Ideas are hashed out. Opinions are heard. Common grace abounds. I love sitting at a table, watching this kind of scene unfold before me.
When I remove my headphones during a walk or run, the earth rumbles and sings. “The heavens declare the glory of the Lord,” the Psalmist wrote. I can hear it whenever I unclog my ears and learn to listen. If there are such beautiful sights and magnificent sounds found in this part of the 4 percent of the known universe, what other mysteries are waiting to be observed in the 96 percent that we haven’t explored?
On a bus ride home, a few weeks ago, a young teenager picked up the cane of a disabled man when the cane had fallen to the floor of the bus. The young man didn’t have to help, but he acted swiftly and graciously, as though he was heeding an inner voice of good. I gratefully observed his kindness and hoped for a better future with more selfless acts.
Chances for wonder are springing up all around me.
The other evening, my son Rafael donned a cape, made by his grandma, and ran the length and breadth of our house continually for a long time. The cape billowed behind him, a grin split his face, and he crowed, “Ohhhhh!!!!” as loud as his lungs could muster. For him, all that existed in that moment was the excitement of moving his limbs, the hilarity found in a piece of cloth sewn by his grandma, and the sound of his own giggles.
Despite life’s brevity and hardships, we can learn to revel in the moment. We must reevaluate what truly matters. Emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, chores—all of these can wait for a short time while we regain our balance. Our spirits need the breath of fresh air, blown in by the God of love and creativity and laughter.
Look up and see the world. It’s good, very good. The Creator said so Himself.
Go. Find your experience with wonder.
Don’t forget to bring a coloring book.