The work of writing, as once told to me by an up and coming author, is to give voice to the extraordinary found within the ordinary, and notice the ordinary within everything extraordinary. It’s a bit of a tongue twister, I know, but time has taught me it’s life-changing effect. A great teacher for me, in this regard, has been a four-year-old named Dennis.
Dennis is bright and inquisitive, joy-filled and curious, and he teaches me to be the same. For the past few months, I’ve babysat him on Saturdays. Most days we go to the park for an adventure, because, as I’ve learned, when you’re four years old,everything is an adventure.
On the way, we make up games to pass the time. I’ll point to something random and ask for its color, or, he’ll choose a color and ask me to find it on something nearby. As we go back and forth, the ordinary subjects around us become more than commonplace objects, but items to be noticed. Through the process, life becomes more than a backdrop towards our destination, but a playground of its own.
Through Dennis’s eyes, I am invited to look at the world as an invitation to be amazed. His youth gives him a sort of eternal optimism that I both admire and envy. Sometimes it seems as though adolescence trains us to see the world with skepticism. At best we are surprised. At worst we are disappointed, yet again. Of course, life offers us more than one reason to sleep with one eye open; it only takes five minutes of current events to see as much. Yet, I wonder if we’ve stopped paying attention to all the good that is also present along the way.
Just yesterday, a new friend of mine took her next big step in advancing her career. A few days before that, I received the kindest note of encouragement from a perfect stranger. In reflecting on these things, I am reminded of how important it is to pay attention. There is some form of beauty to be found in everything.
So, what would it mean and how could it change us to see the world through the perspective of wonder…to find the ordinary in the extraordinary and the extraordinary in everything ordinary.
It dawns on me now that scripture begins with the genesis of wonder:
“In the beginning, God created….”
At the start, we are called to imagine a world where life is birthed within void, light reveals itself in darkness, and beauty comes from dust. This is a key component of the Gospel. Beauty from ashes, joy from mourning, life from death. It is our gift of an invitation to look up and accept that this world is far more complex, striking, and worthy than we can see on our own. In every person, place, and thing there is something worth being redeemed. In every person, place, and thing there is something worth noticing.