It is a happiness to wonder; — it is a happiness to dream. -Edgar Allen Poe
I wonder where my wonder went. This Christmas season, wonder traipsed off with magic and excitement and left me with obligation and should and must. I don’t like those guys. They remind me too often that I am a 43 year old mother, who is required to create an experience I don’t feel.
Wonder. She shows up here and there when the kids are asking questions of Christmases past. Her head pokes in the side door when a song comes on, or a beautiful story is shared, or in the rare moment screens are set down in favor of a game.
Wonder’s smart that way. She hides within the young. One must become childlike to see her. She doesn’t like to dwell with those of us who have perfection problems and high expectations and easy disappointment triggers. While always being available to adults, she has strong boundaries, protecting herself from obligation.
I needed her today, a hefty dose to counteract this dull ache that likes to show up during vulnerable times. And vulnerable times for me are most times. God, in forming my being, threw in an extra heightened sensitivity, a gauge of sorts that haywires during seasons that wield high expectations like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries.
Sensitivity, while on the one hand, prepares the way for empathy, kindness, generosity, grace; the other renders perfectionism, comparison, jealousy.
When wonder sticks around for an extended visit, she breathes new life, filling my lungs with relief. A balm, her magical way of softening my heart and calming my mind, delivering goodness and grace.
In Advent, wonder’s work is essential. She reminds us there is more, hope is possible, hope is preferable. The answers are not manufactured by our better efforts, our beliefs, our practices. The answers are only uncovered in the humblest of moments, as in the birth of a baby.
Advent forces a reckoning, a wrestling with what is and what will be, driving me to silence, to stillness, to seeking. My sensitivity problem suggests I surrender my ideas of importance, my notions of significance, my longing for notoriety. The newborn invites the relinquishment of my expectations and grand notions.
I am nudged to become as a child.
The wisest among us are those who recognize their lack, their need. This newborn – the most powerful of helpless creatures – has come as Emmanuel, God with us.
God with us.
God with us.
God with us.
I don’t think Jesus came so I could have eternal life. I don’t think Jesus came so it could be about my happiness. I don’t think Jesus came to teach us lessons.
I think Jesus came so we can have wonder and hope, despite the circumstances in which we reside, despite the political climate, despite the suffering. Jesus came to usher in freedom from the pulsating need driving our minds, hearts, bodies, souls. Jesus came to shrink the gaping hole that threatens to engulf us from the inside out by halting the overflow of fear in exchange for the torrent of fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.
The antidotes to my dull ache, the antidotes to my open wound of discontent, the antidotes to my lack are wonder, rest, silence, solitude.
Now, to open my eyes, to become as a child, waiting in expectation, living in wonder.
Surrendered. Open. Watching.
Come Lord Jesus, come.