It is with eager anticipation that I noticed the first tinge of green appearing on the grass, along with the yellowish hues on the willow trees. These glimpses of colour signal that something is happening. This is a season of anticipation, of renewal, of watching things come back to life. Spring speaks of the gift of life and discovery. It speaks of wonder.
I learned a valuable life lesson about wonder and curiosity a number of years back. My teacher, a two-year-old. Before becoming a parent, I had the opportunity to look after a friend’s little daughter. When we set out for a stroll I had no idea that we would spend well over an hour walking around a small city block.
We noticed bugs, we poked in the cracks, we stopped and sat on the sidewalk and spent an interminable amount of time simply throwing the remnants of winter gravel onto the road, enjoying the sounds it made. With eyes sparkling and giggles erupting, this little two year old girl taught me a valuable lesson that day. She taught me to slow down, to discover and to marvel, to see the world differently, to see it through wonder-filled eyes.
Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic, articulates how this need for wonder fuels and fills our souls. She writes, “At such times, I can always steady my life once more by returning to my soul. I ask it, ‘And what is it that you want, dear one?’ The answer is always the same: ‘More wonder, please.’ As long as I’m still moving in that direction – toward wonder – then I will always be fine in my soul.” (p. 250)
It seems we are designed for wonder. When we are in a state of wonder, curiously exploring, we are in an open and engaged posture.
An Amazing Love Story
Every now and then someone in the mental health field takes our breath away with their insight, their deep understanding of what it is to be human, and their insight into nurturing healthy relationships, overcoming mental illness, parenting, loving one another, and building strong, connected communities. For us at Shalem, one of those persons is Dr. Brené Brown.
Brown has a gained a sterling reputation for her research into what it is to belong, and how belonging is shaped by our experiences of shame, vulnerability and risk. She is a “rock star” in our field. Her TED Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” has had over 7.5 million views—and counting.
All of her books, such as The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are and Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead are outstanding explorations into what it is to be human. We use her short video on “blame” in our WrapAround training (in WrapAround, “no shame, no blame” is one of our key values). I recommend all of these without hesitation and return them again and again myself.
Imagine my delight then at hearing Brené Brown speak publicly and articulately about her deep love for and faith in God. I should not be surprised by this: her work resonates profoundly with the Gospel.
On January 21, 2018, a Sunday morning, Brené Brown delivered the sermon at Washington National Cathedral, an Episcopal (Anglican) church. I highly recommend it.
In her sermon, she describes her relationship with God as “an amazing love story.”