Spiritual Exercise on Wonder

Option 1) Who’s Been Wonderful Lately?
We say it with a huge smile: “I love it when people surprise me!”  The annoying, difficult person at the office who, unexpectedly, is the one most kind when you need kindness. The nervous and cautious child who finds their courage one day. The self-sacrificing friend who finally stands up for herself.  All of them leave us in wonder at what people are capable of—of what we are capable of.

This assignment challenges you to find at least 2 “wonder folk” this month—two people who surprise you, two people who remind you why it’s important to see past our assumption of people, to let go of our judgements. Come to your group ready to share not only the story of your two wonderful folk, but also why you needed this wonderful reminder.

Option 2) What Kind of Wonder?
Gretchin Rubin suggests there are two approaches to wonder – that of the child and that of the adult.  Childlike wonder is the wonder that arises from the novelty of experience, from stopping and seeing something clearly. Adultlike wonder, by contrast, is the wonder that comes from experience and understanding. Some things are made all the more marvelous with knowledge.

This month, reflect on your usual or preferred sense of wonder. Does it arise from seeing new and fresh things?  Or does wonder arise the more you learn about someone or something?  Once you have a sense of your usual path to wonder, take this month to add more of the other kind of wonder to your life.

If you are more likely to be alert, open and appreciative of new experiences, take the time this month to focus on something you know well – a topic, a person, a place. Be open, avoid judgement, and try to be present in the moment. Pay attention, look closely, think deeply. Can you respond with wonder to the familiar?

If you like to know things well and deeply, spend time this month trying new routes, new activities, new foods, and pay attention when you do. If something catches your eye, stop and look closely at it. Feel how the new and fresh feels. Can you experience a sense of wonder?

If you are not sure what kind of wonder you experience, simply try to be open and present. Look at the world with wondering eyes, and come to the group with stories of your experience.

Everyday Practices
From Spirituality & Practice, here is a meditation mantra for a sitting or walking practice.
Breathing in: O let me sense . . .
Breathing out: the world anew.

If you keep a journal, write down your experiences of wonder. Be as clear and descriptive as possible of the moment to which you responded with wonder. Where were you, what did it look like, smell like, sound like, what struck your heart like a ringing bell?

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