Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

When Wonder Wanes

Autumn is almost in full bloom here in Connecticut and Halloween is nearly upon us. Not too long ago I took both my children to a celebrated display at our local garden center. "Pumpkin Town" includes a hay maze, decorations and themed displays that feature "pumpkin people". It is cheap, the kids love it...a perfect formula for a sunny afternoon. 

As we set off this year to make our annual visit both my kids beamed in the backseat with anticipation, memories from the year before dancing in their heads. When we finally arrived my son reveled at the displays, got a kick out of the "pumpkin car" and ran to each pumpkin person giving them an enthusiastic embrace. While I had to quell his rambunctious zeal a bit so as to not have to pay for anything when we left, I watched as my daughter's face fell into an expression of disappointment.

"When did it get so small?" She asked, looking around unimpressed.

Something within my heart stirred a bit as I realized this was yet one, of many signs lately, that my daughter is growing up.

"Well, it's the same as last year...", I replied slowly. "It probably looks a little different because you're bigger, you're a little older now."

Later at home that night while cooking  dinner I mused over the fact that my little girl is growing up. The amazement she's had towards certain things has now waned and rusted. She is losing some of the wide-eyed childlike wonder that she's always viewed this world with.

I thought about how that can also be the case as it comes to our perspective towards God. How, as with any relationship, our relationships with God  and the way we view Him can eb and flow. And ultimately, the wonder at which we first saw Him, can wane and fade, just as a child's wonder does at the world around them. We become used to God, feel we have Him "down" and the wonder that we first approached the footstool of His throne with becomes replaced with busy talk at prayer meetings, Sunday morning sermons and just the stuff of life. It can be easy, as God becomes more commonplace and routine, to stop taking the time to cease everything and ponder His glory, His love, His amazing nature.

To echo the psalmist:

Psalm 77: 11-14a

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way , O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders.

I thought about the concept of having  "faith like a child". Oftentimes, when I've had questions, which I seem to always have, things that have become stumbling blocks to me, I am told simply to have faith like a child. Those I converse with quote Mark 10:15  15 "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And explain that it means that God's children are not to question, to just accept and embrace what Scripture has to say and leave it at that.

When did children not ask questions? Don't they always ask questions?!?!

In my view, I don't think Scripture is telling us to be ignorant like a child. I think , instead, Scripture is telling us to have the kind of child-like innocence, the fresh wonder and amazement in which a child approaches the world. A trait that life and our culture seems to squash over time.  Oftentimes us adults perceive everything as commonplace and don't look for the miracle in the ordinary. The miracles that seem to rise up out of the periphery for children, because their senses are more receptive in receiving them. In the same way a child has wonder and awe at discovering the things of this world, we are to have wonder and awe at discovering God.

God invites us to see everything new and revealed before us, as children do.  He welcomes our inquiries and invites us to dig deep for His truths, as a child digs enthusiastically at the beach, finding delight at discovering treasure after treasure buried beneath the sands.

So, what is one to do if they find their wonder towards God has waned? The amazement in which they once approached God, now  rusted like a lone tractor out on a farm field, unused, a remnant of a faith grown cold and indifferent?  Still a believer, yet the fire once burning like the rising sun, now hidden and obscured, dark as a new moon. Does this sound familiar? I've certainly been there.

I'm sure there are many ways. A gratitude journal is a great place to start.  Consciously writing down the things that you appreciate and find in your everyday moments.  It's an effective practice in mindfulness. That's what Ann Voskamp did and wrote about in her book, "One Thousand Gifts", a wonderful and inspiring read by the way! You can read my review here: http://ascendingthehills.blogspot.com/2011/06/one-thousand-gifts-book-review.html

Contemplative spiritual disciplines can also have a profound effect on one's faith.  Centering prayer and mindfulness meditation has taken my faith that had once become nearly all dogma and doctrine and breathed life into it as I began to experience and encounter God directly. As I  have progressed in my practices it is as if I am seeing things in a whole new way. Lifted from the once blurry and shadowy background, all kinds of details around me are emerging.  The senses become more attuned and can often become flooded with the glory and miracles God has to offer. The ordinary has now become extraordinary as wonders abound in each moment. It's been a transformative journey as I have begun to cultivate an inner awareness of God.

Oftentimes, when I'm in the woods I just feel like falling on my knees, thanking God for the wonders that surround me. Feeling overwhelmed by the deep feeling of His presence within and all around.  I wrote about such an experience in this article: http://ascendingthehills.blogspot.com/2011/10/at-rivers-edge.html 

I encourage you to take a look at the diagram above and, if you feel some of your wonder has waned or you want to experience God in new ways, consider which practice(s) you might want to try incorporating in your spiritual life. 

Have any other suggestions? Comments? I'd love to hear them! Thank you!


  1. Hi Jessica.

    This is another great post. I can so relate. In fact, your post reminded me of one I wrote several years ago called "Where Has the Wonder Gone?"

    I just republished it here. http://www.christiandropout.com/2011/10/where-has-the-wonder-gone.html

    I love the tree illustration. God created us to be and experience so much more as spiritual beings than so many of us have been taught. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks so much Bill! I'm going to have to check out your post! It's definitely a worthy topic of approaching...a sense of waning wonder can be all too common for the Christian, it's helpful to find tools in which to help renew our experience with God.

    Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Great post, Jessica! I seem to be able to relate to EVERYTHING you post! Isn't God great!! I love the point you made about approaching God s an innocent child..yet still feeling free and open to ask Him questions...always questions!!! But, like a child, knowing your questions will be answered in a loving way...feeling cinfident your parent won't just dismiss you. I've heard the answers we get from God are usually "yes", "no" or "not now"...but it's OK because all of His answers are for our GOOD...even if we put and whine like a child!! I know I've done that! LOL "Why did You take my mother?" Why don't my daughter and I have a better relationship" Why can't I find a job"...the answer? "You don't understand my ways...but I am doing a work in you and it is ALL for your good...Trust Me"...Thanks God! and thank you, Jessica!

  4. Thank you so much Mary! I love getting to know you..I do think we have a lot in common when it comes to our spiritual journeys! I always love hearing your thoughts and perspective. Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. Wonderful post, Jessica! In a jaded and fallen world, sometimes it is difficult to see Him as we should - children full of wonder, awe, excitement, and questions! Yet, that is the way we must become if we truly want to have a deep, abiding relationship with Him. I hope this inspires those with waning faith turn around and run back to their Abba with all the exuberance of a child!


  6. Love it, love it, awesome post. Really like the tree with the many possibilities for expanding our faith and wonder. One of my favorite scripture quotes as well.

  7. Martha, thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Lynne, thanks so much for stopping by. When I first came across that tree diagram I knew I wanted to post it on my blog at some point..I finally found an article where it fit into :) Glad you liked it. I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts on in the future! ~blessings

  9. I loved the diagram you shared! Years ago, I came across the idea that labyrinth walking originated not as a game, but as a spiritual tool. I was fascinated by that concept and this reminded me of the research I delved into. Meditation is part of my daily existence, but I do occasionally fall out of that daily practice. Sometimes it's necessary to take time away and come back refreshed and with new enthusiasm for the process. Each time I embrace it anew, I find new facets, new layers, new thoughts to explore and I always recognize that growth is happening. Wonderful post!

    - Dawn

  10. “Listen” said the White Spirit. “Once you were a child. Once you knew what inquiry was for. There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you found them. Become that child again; even now.”
    ~ C.S. Lewis (The Great Divorce)

    The diagram in the Tree of Contemplative Practices illustrates the many ways an individual can approach God. I can relate to your daughter’s disappointment and the waning of wonder. (Good analogy!). This happens to many who remain on stale paths that have worn out their usefulness. For instance, there was a time years ago when clapping and singing in church, or raising hands toward heaven, eyes closed, was perceived as “worship.” And for many, it still is. But this is no longer the venue that draws me into his presence like it did once upon a time. In the final analysis, we all have to draw near to him any way that works for us as individuals. That’s what I like about the diagram; it shows a variety of venues.

  11. I can remember when I first found God and how my faith was as a child looking up at Santa...and how that faith grew....and how it seemed prayers were answered..I wonder now where that all went..how it all changed for me in these last 2 years..it's a sad thing and I wonder if it is still there to be found.....As always.....XOXOXOXO

  12. The Tree Illustration is perfect for this post. I am not a religious person and have always thought of myelf as a Spiritual Person always connecting to the awe of Creation within the Spirit of Place.

    I too have felt the sadness within the loss of the wonder of seeing the world throught the eyes of the child. When does the adult no longer be in touch with the wonders of its own Creation....I think it is an individual process...each within the loosing and finding again the God of our own understanding.

    I worship every day in the song of a bird, the smile on a face, the wonder of a child, the sound of rain on a window, the feel of wind in the air..the beauty of a sunset and sunrise, the full moon creeping slowly over the mountain top...a seal swimming in the ocean...just to mention a few. every day Our World, the Earth, wraps us in Creation....beautiful post...and a place for Contemplative Practice....Always...

  13. I enjoyed your post, Jessica, put am having trouble getting this comment accepted. This is my second attempt. I wanted to say that practices help one listen to the Holy Spirit,and can be consistent with continuing Christian faith. What a bout giving Jessica a magnifiying loupe for Christmas on a pretty cord, so she can explore the new wondrous world of mosses & small flowers & minerals? Maybe insects if she likes them! Sigrun

  14. I so much relate to this post of yours Jessica,the tree illustration is fabulous...at a time like what I am going through right now,a few miracles are occurring,bringing back my faith in God. You have so much within u dear Jessica,to give us...God bless u and your family.

  15. Good Morning, Jessica:
    It's like I've said on my blog before, children are more susceptible to the divine because their lives haven't been filtered yet.

    Children are still innocent enough to see things that adults don't. They haven't been fitted with spiritual blinders yet. It is up to those of us who have removed our blinders to educate those who still wear theirs.

    You said:
    Something within my heart stirred a bit as I realized this was yet one, of many signs lately, that my daughter is growing up.

    "Well, it's the same as last year...", I replied slowly. "It probably looks a little different because you're bigger, you're a little older now."

    Later at home that night while cooking dinner I mused over the fact that my little girl is growing up. The amazement she's had towards certain things has now waned and rusted.

    This is the first step toward losing that wide eyed faith, that innocence, Jessica. I'd say take your daughter somewhere spiritual that you hold dear. Maybe that place you wrote about a few columns ago, just the two of you. Let her feel what you feel. Explain to her that while she IS growing up, you want her to always feel The Spirit/The Divine/God moving through her. Show her that it is NOT wrong/foolish/silly to express your spiritual side.

    Those who have children are at a fortunate time now, when there seems to be a shift in counsciousness. They shouldn't let this opportunity slip away.

    The children shall lead us, but only if they are NOT leary, hesitant, worried that they will be looked down upon. It is up to the parents to foster that wide eyed faith. The ONLY way to keep the flame burning is to make sure it doesn't go out.

    How do you do that? By giving the children a reason to know it isn't wrong to hold onto that faith.

    Show them you're not afraid.
    Bring them to your spiritual places.
    Let them feel your innocence.

  16. The diagram says it all...I have gone through those stages where I have felt the same disappointments... however life will and has presented itself to me with new incidents where I have begun to question like a child again.... The excitement is back....

  17. Dawn , "Meditation is part of my daily existence, but I do occasionally fall out of that daily practice."

    I've confessed here on my blog that I'm guilty of the same thing! It's hard, with our schedules and life's distractions to stay regular amd have a consistent routine. Definitely worth working on though, the benefits are priceless :)

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing :)

  18. Debra,

    "In the final analysis, we all have to draw near to him any way that works for us as individuals."

    So true! And I agree, what works at one time might not work all the time. I like the idea of trying new ways of experiencing God and encountering Him anew. It helps us explore different dimensions of His nature.

    Thanks for stopping by Debra :) I always appreciate your thoughts.

    Thanks f

  19. Bonnie, that first spark of trust, of awe and wonder, that you had towards God can always be rekindled. Just find a place where your heart and mind feel most at rest and sit there, quietly opening up to Him. Pour our your heart verbally or in the silence and then wait, empty and He will fill you. He loves you. As Debra mentioned, and the diagram expresses..there are so many ways to encounter God and we all have different personality traits, so some ways might be more effective for some than others. I'd check out the diagram and try a few out...with an earnest and seeking heart, may you be blessed with what you discover :)

    ~blessings and peace..thanks for stopping by :)

  20. Raven, beautiful thoughts...I loved hearing all the ways that you encounter the Divine through creation and how the earth "wraps us in Creation"..a beautiful way of putting it! Thanks so much for stopping by :)

  21. Sigrun,

    I'm glad you were able to leave a message! :) A great suggestion to make for Montana...thanks :)

  22. Alpana, Thank you so much for stopping by. It brings me happiness to hear that you are experiencing blessings...May you continue to feel God working in your life and may light and joy blossom in your heart. It's always great to hear from you. ~blessings

  23. Chris, thanks so much for stopping by. What great suggestions. I've been taking my daughter when I can out in the woods, after school. That's one thing that overwhelms her sometimes...the lack of creative opportunities there are at school. I think that's a large part of kids losing some of their wonder and innocence. So, when she's done with her day, of memorizing, charts and organized and structured learning, I bring her out to the woods where she and my son can run and enjoy some of the wonders to be found. I definitely long to spend more one on one time with her too though, where I can talk to her more about things and also, one activity I've been thinking of, is taking sketch pads and having us just sit together and draw what stands out to us , and share that with one another.

    Thanks Chris :) Always great to have you here.


  24. Savira, so glad the excitement is back! It's a great feeling, isn't it? :)
    Thanks for stopping by!

  25. Robin,

    Glad you enjoyed this post. Hope to hear more of your thoughts in the future. Thanks for stopping by :)


  26. Jessica - I do believe that like in every relationship, our relationship with God to goes through several phases - but the commitment to love remains.

  27. So wonderfully written Jessica. I can relate to both. I'm really noticing the changes in my daughter at this moment in time:)

  28. This is among the pages I'd like to go back into for my reflections. I'd really like to try each one of the practices just so I'd keep on falling in love with Christ over and over again.

    You know for a time now, I've been reflecting on that Bible passage on 'becoming like little children' (Mt.18,3). They are our key towards heaven.

    I pray that our inner child will find its way to simplicity and trust in God.

  29. often times life experiences leave us jaded or our interpretation of what once was leaves us and takes on new form ... a part of growing, I suppose. Like you said the ebb and flow!

    I see this with my children as well and at times I have to remind myself that they are getting older and with that comes change and change isn't something I 'do' well! I recall last spring as the weather was changing; it was time to clean out and organize my daughters closet and I thought to myself ... when did her little girl clothes stop looking so little? I cried and for the first time I was really, really aware of how important it is to GROW, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually ... we are not meant to stand still.