Wonder, Childlikeness, and the Wilderness

The clouds lift from Mt. Hood and Cooper Reach along the Cooper Spur Trail, Oregon

The clouds lift from Mt. Hood and Cooper Reach along the Cooper Spur Trail, Oregon

There’s so much wonder that is invoked in me when I’m in the natural world.  When I see the towering cliffs, the rolling waves of the ocean, the minutest detail in the wildflowers, I’m filled with this awe and wonder at it all.

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington

Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, Washington

In the gospels, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3) and “…the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these [little children]” (Matthew 19:14).

Playing in the sunset at the Great Salt Lake, Utah

Playing in the sunset at the Great Salt Lake, Utah

One of the things that sets little children apart from older children is their sense of wonder over all they see.  I’ve watched as little ones were in awe of the colorful rainbows in a bubble, or returned again and again to a pretty flower, or laughed in wonder at the antics of an animal at the zoo.  To them, everything is new, everything that catches their eye and their heart is awe-inducing.

Wildflowers at the Upper Delicate Arch Overlook in Arches National Park, Utah

Wildflowers at the Upper Delicate Arch Overlook, Utah

If we are to enter or possess the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus says we must become like little children.  We must have that wonder, the easily-induced awe at Him and all He does.

Big Balancing Rock, Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Big Balancing Rock, Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

As adults, it can be difficult to cultivate that sense of wonder and awe.  Our society is set up to induce boredom, not awe – you need to try this, throw out your old that and get a new one, that other thing is passé now, you can only find happiness in this new thing, and on and on.

Crevasses in Coleman Glacier near Heliotrope Divide on Mt. Baker, Washington

Crevasses in Coleman Glacier near Heliotrope Divide on Mt. Baker, Washington

One way we can keep wonder alive is by going out to the wilderness, and allowing ourselves to experience the awe of all we see and experience.  The adult-boredom-inspired lethargy can drain away there, leaving us breathless at an overlook, or awed by the majesty of the towering trees.

Early morning at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove of Redwoods, California

Early morning at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove of Redwoods, California

And then, God can speak to us with His awe and His wonder, because then our hearts are opened to know and experience just how awe-inspiring and wonderful He really is.