A Posture of Wonder

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By Naomi Williams | Twitter: @NaomiWilliams87

J_Naomi

I’d spent a few weeks mulling over my One Word for this year when a question stirred: What are you afraid of? The answer came to me as I cycled past the creaking clock tower of Kings Cross station, bubbling up to the surface with aching familiarity.

I am afraid of my dreams remaining as dreams.

I’m definitely an ideas girl—strings of dreams in my heart jostle for attention, but I often lack the discipline to create space for them. This means I often carry a looming sense of anxiety, and perhaps, failure.

I’m scared of crying tears while my hands remain numb.

Yes. This is my fear. Don’t get me wrong—I believe dreaming and crying are such good, God-breathed things. I simply felt I was missing some pieces of the jigsaw in which I would be stirred into more action from my dreams and tears. I wanted to be moved to meaningful action. I wanted my dreams to bear fruit.

Thoreau wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with their song still in them.” This terrifies me.

I felt relief to speak it out, and I exhaled. I thought then that the One Word I chose for this year ought to fix this problem immediately. I chewed over words like “leap or “activate.” That would fix my problem, right?

But my unease didn’t disappear as I cycled on. I don’t think I need encouragement to do more stuff; saying “yes” comes ten times more easily than “no” to a Type Two Enneagram-er like me.

My sense is that in doing All The Stuff, I haven’t made space to nurture the best dreams.

The big, wild, this-is-what-we-are-made-for dreams. I thought about the stuff I did last year—good stuff—but much of it came from a place of anxiety; anxiety that if I said no, I would be left carrying the echoes of a sputtering song in my heart. And in the midst of it all, I often felt like I was missing the point.

It was at almost the exact same spot, by the creaking clock tower on my way home, that I met an old friend. We had once shared a house in Uganda and as our reminiscing interweaved with Where-are-you-now, he talked about living in wonder, bewilderment, surprise. This, he said, is what he is practicing, in contrast to the modus operandi of a world that specialises in anxiety.

The Holy Spirit began breathing in a gentle way, like a warm breeze permeating the stiff and the anxious—refreshing, restoring, unearthing. Something about wonder felt right and true. I found myself clapping my hands as my friend-turned-Archimedes continued sharing and I realised afresh the fantastical beauty of a God who will create sacred places for communion right into the frayed edges of our lives. Right here, between two friends sitting in a pub with sticky tables and faded wallpaper and karaoke tunes playing in Kings Cross.

And the next day, Sarah Bessey wrote a beautiful post called Chasing Wonder. If I hadn’t been at work, I would have clapped again.

My mind reeled that night as I cycled home. Wonder.

On the one hand it feels alien. On the other, like a warm, familiar blanket. My friend says he practices wonder. We’ve gotten out of the habit, perhaps? I knew there are precious secrets tucked away in that word.

Show me how I can meet you in wonder, Lord.

As Sarah wrote, we spend so much of our time trying to systemize God into an entity we can digest that we run the risk of forgetting how to marvel at the vastness, the mystery, the dazzling unknowable. Because, of course, the flip side of wonder is anxiety. Anxiety that we haven’t got it all figured out, wrapped up in choice Bible verses and slipped into our pocket.

Yet as anyone who has looked up at the stars, watched bread turn golden, or experienced forgiveness understands, there is delight in the unknowable if we choose wonder over anxiety, if we enter into the marvellous, often unanswerable mystery of God.

It’s got me thinking—perhaps wonder is a better word for me at this stage than leap.

The God who calls us to be fruitful is a Sabbath-resting God who stands for the complete opposite of how our world would have us produce fruit: through fear, anxiety and doing more—always more. It’s not that leaping and activating aren’t good things. But I wonder if we would be missing the point—missing all the marvelous mystery—if we expend our lives leaping before being dazzled.

Perhaps the trajectory goes: practicing a posture of wonder produces true, good fruit.

Fruit of the Spirit.

Fruit unearthed from the song in our hearts.

Fruit grown, as Walter Brueggemann writes, from work stoppage because we are prepared to rest and marvel at a God who rescues us again and again as we stop and allow ourselves to fall into the mystery.

Fruit birthed from a decision to choose wonder over anxiety.

I wonder if a posture of wonder wouldn’t leave us more open to hear the call of a restful, dazzling God, and so know how to take the best leaps for our best dreams at the best time, from a place of joy and compassion.

So this year, I want to practice a posture of wonder. I’m aware that this can only happen if I peel myself away from the endless cycle of doing and producing and worrying and acquiring so that I can cherish what is before me as a gift, delighting in the unknowable with a curious, “What’s next, Papa?” (Romans 8:15-17, The Message)

So, here are some of my ideas for cultivating wonder: Read more fiction; delve more deeply into science and creation; bake bread on Saturdays; forgive more easily; hold my tongue; practice saying no; explore parts of London I’ve never seen.

What about you, SheLovelys? What does a posture of wonder look like for you? What ideas do you have for cultivating wonder this year? 

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About Naomi:

Naomi Williams hails from the bustling streets of London, England. Her first name honors her English and Japanese heritage, but her favorite thing about the name Naomi is its Hebrew meaning, “pleasant” – a reminder that she is pleasing to her Heavenly Father, an idea that turns her upside down every day. Pieces of her heart are tucked away in London, in the cheery-tree’d loveliness of Japan with her family, in the wild open spaces of Western Canada where her fiancee lives, and in the steamy banana fields of East Africa which keep calling her back. You can connect with Naomi on her blog and twitter.

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