“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Henry David Thoreau
I was outside near a park enjoying the sunshine when a little boy in a blue ball cap came into view. He was leading his dad on an adventure. They arrived at a tree that was about three feet taller than his dad in the middle of an open space. The little boy walked over to the tree, looked up as if to greet it and then started to run around it. His dad followed. They went around again and again and again.
Children often live in wonder. A walk to the park becomes a delightful game with a tree. That sense of wonder seems to fade as we grow older. Instead of playing ring-around-the rosie with a tree we just run around in our busyness. Our grown-up paths easily become well worn and comfortable, filled with both necessary and purposeful things. After a while, we can get used to life as we know it and miss the wonder of an ordinary day.
I believe that sense of wonder we once knew is still there. We just need to reawaken it. We can follow a child to the park or watch the sun set or discover fireflies twinkling across the landscape. It takes a little effort. For example, you need to be intentional to see a firefly. You need to know when and where to look. You won’t see a firefly in the morning. They are not active all year round. Where I live they come out mid to late June at dusk, the thin space between day and night when the sun hands off the light to the moon.
The Irish sometimes talk about thin places as a place where we catch a glimpse of the divine. Barbara Brown Taylor says the thin place is where the veil between this world and the next is so sheer that it is easy to step through. The Bible talks about moments like this in the story of Moses and the burning bush, Jacob and the ladder full of angels, and Elijah encountering the sound of sheer silence.
When we see a firefly it can wake us up to the thin space illumining the reality of something beyond what our eyes usually see. Waiting is often the hardest part. Sometimes waiting can feel like forever as we wait for healing, for clarity, for the provision of a job, or house, or a plan, or a relationship . As we wait to see the firefly we can be reminded that we can find the light . We can find the wonder of goodness and possibility all around us. We can find hope. As we wait, longing for relief or deliverance or for that spark of possibility we’ve been hoping for, we can remember we are not alone. We are a part of something greater than ourselves where change is possible.
Pastor Eugene Pastor said, “We wake up each morning to a world we did not make.” There is beauty and wonder all around us. Being in nature can be like moving around in God’s imagination. Let’s step out today, ready to see beyond our well worn paths to the wonder wrapped up in today. Something incredible is waiting to be known.