What do you wonder about?
Shortly after entering the seclusion of religious life, I became shocked from the sight of people walking down the street completely consumed with their cell phones. I understood the lament of the great French thinker Père Gratry when he said, “We are all more and more deficient in depth and recollection. The world moves on with ever increasing rapidity.” Millennials, such as myself, have grown so accustomed to being constantly engaged with an external stimulus that we are in danger of becoming dull, dreary, and uninvolved. The more I reflected on this, the more I thought, “We weren’t made to live this way.”
The fact that our modern world produces zombie-like people was puzzling to me. It was striking to me how different this consumer-driven, rat-race style of life was from an experience I had one summer exploring the Rockies at a camp in Colorado. I thought of how captivated I was then by God’s intricately designed and expansive creation. This, in turn, drew me to contemplate the mystery of myself—the mystery of the human person. The quiet moments during our scaling of the mountains of overwhelming stature forced me to deal with the great questions of my Catholic faith and what God wanted for me in this life. I wrestled here with God as Jacob did in the wilderness (Gen. 32:22-32). As the summer progressed I continued to present my questions before the Lord, and I realized that my desire for Him grew and deepened. In that prayer I seemed to be exploring a whole other world—the world of the soul. It was here that I understood what St. Augustine said centuries earlier concerning prayer:
Why he should ask us to pray, when he knows what we need before we ask him. . .but wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayers, so that we may be able to receive what he is preparing to give us. His gift is very great indeed, but our capacity is too small and limited to receive it. That is why we are told: Enlarge your desires. . .desire unceasingly that life of happiness which is nothing if not eternal.
The phone-consumed Millennial is just one example of how modern man has ceased to wonder. While our possessions can be good gifts from God, we are far too easily enraptured by our own measly creations. When we pray, our holy desires for God and for our neighbor are allowed to deepen, and we begin to explore the countless ways in which we can serve God’s people in love. In this stretching of our hearts we come out of ourselves and begin to see the wondrous designs of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So often we are left in awe as a result. In seeing God’s marvelous designs a peaceful humility sets in that leaves us tranquil before the Love that created us. It is here that we wonder.
The Christian must plead to the Holy Spirit to guide his heart, his desires, and his wonder in order to explore the inner world of the soul. He must seek a way out of the labyrinth that can be the consuming power of technology. It is here that the Christian will discover the daily working of God in the world he created freely out of love.
You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be numbered. — Psalm 40:5
Let us look at God and wonder.