Saturday, January 10, 2015

a time to wonder

One late afternoon in October, I was walking to the cafeteria and passed a large group. One of them, Rachel, grabbed me.
“Kate! I’m so glad you are here! I’ve been lamenting that there was no one here who would understand. Look!”
I looked, and there was a spectacular tree at the peak of its fall colors – bright orange and red with just a hint of yellow. We stopped and stared at it for a good thirty seconds, enthusing over how stunning it was.
In class later that week, our English professor was talking about Hopkins: “Hopkins made you stop and look at things you otherwise wouldn’t pay attention to. ‘Look at that!’ he would say, ‘it’s not just a tree – IT’S A TREE!’ He wanted you to stop and see all the glory of its tree-ness, instead of just glancing at it as something familiar.”
Rachel and I glanced at each other and smiled. We knew exactly what Hopkins and our professor were talking about.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It was an incredibly clear, cold night. The moon was full and bright, surrounded by stars. The Pleiades, which has been one of my favorite constellations since long before I knew its name, was easily visible, just below and to the right of the moon.

A group of some of my favorite people was walking to a friend’s apartment for tea and cookies after the college Christmas concert. As wonderful as I knew it would be, I couldn’t stand the idea of going inside on such a beautiful night. I kept walking slower and slower, which led to a lively exchange with one of my friends who was freezing cold and in a hurry to get inside.
Finally I stopped and flopped down on my back on one of the big lawns on campus. I knew where we were going and could easily catch up to the others, but first I just needed to lie there and stare at the moon for a few minutes. Most of the group kept going, used to my sometimes eccentric ways, but two of my friends who are as crazy and held by beauty as I am flopped down on the grass with me. We talked a bit, but mostly, we just enjoyed the rare moment of peace. When we were ready, we got up and went inside to drink hot things and enjoy cookies like sane people.
It was one of the best moments of the semester.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
All too often last semester, I was too hurried and harried to stop and be filled with wonder at the glory of the world and people around me. I would glance at it and note its presence, but not stop and pay full attention. The best days were the ones when I did stop to truly see and soak up the beauty of the natural world, or the quirky character trait of one of my friends, or the gift of a brief but meaningful conversation, or a funny comic that my brother sent me. The best days were the ones with moments when I was captivated by wonder to the extent that I would grab anyone in sight so they would get to experience it too.

E.B. White said to "always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder."

Join me?

No comments:

Post a Comment