Wonder and Wanderings

by Reverend Amanda

While in seminary, I was in Braintree MA preparing for a youth group ice cream social. And I was looking through all of the things I bought and I realized that I had forgotten the Jimmies everyone requested. I puzzled at the word “jimmies” that was neatly printed on my list and had to look up what Jimmies were as I was a Connecticut girl born and raised and had never heard of Jimmies (which apparently are chocolate sprinkles). So, I got into my car to go to the grocery store with my MapQuest directions in my hands.  This was before GPS was widely used.

There must have been 15 different Standish Roads that I had to take to get there and at the end of my journey I found myself in the middle of a very peaceful cemetery. I had not made it to my intended destination of Stop and Shop. Looking back on it, though, I believe that I made it to where God intended me to be. It was really quite beautiful. In those moments as I wandered through the cemetery looking at the very old grave stones, I wondered to myself about the purpose of this experience. Where was I being led? And most importantly, what was God trying to tell me?

As I walked through the cemetery, I wondered about the lives of the people buried there. I wondered if their descendants remained in the area. And as I thought and walked, I felt a peace that I desperately needed. Eventually, I made it to the store for the Jimmies. But those moments in the cemetery were some of the most peaceful I had experienced in weeks. It reset me and calmed me.

I felt God in those moments speaking to me louder than I had in quite some time. I never had the time to sit down and listen anymore. I was just too overscheduled and overwhelmed. Yet in those moments in the cemetery, I had no choice in the silence than to remain calm and just feel God’s presence. I felt as if I could connect with God in those moments. We have a choice in life, we can either wander around panicking at each hick up, scared of life, feeling utterly alone, or we can accept God’s invitation to join in the wonder of Christ, the wonder of God’s love, feeling his presence in our wanderings. We are being invited to listen for Christ’s wisdom and to wander through life with him in the lead.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is I Wonder as I Wander. It is a quiet song about the curiosity and wonder around Jesus who was brought here for our good, for the good of human kind. The first and last verses of the song say, “I wonder and I wander, out under the sky, How Jesus the Savior did come for to die for poor ordinary people like you and like I. I wonder as I wander, out under the sky”.[1] It makes me sit in wonder about Jesus and God and their role in the world today. I am left with a question, “Have we, as a society, lost the curiosity, the wonder as we approach God?” Do we ever just sit in wonder? Do we ever ask the question: Who is this child, who is this savior? And where is he leading me next?

Curiosity and wonder are just as much a part of the Christmas season as the birth story of Jesus. It is about God doing the seemingly impossible in Israel thousands of years ago. But it is also a reminder that God continues to do the impossible in our lives. Jesus sat in that temple asking questions and listening to answers and even as a small child he understood God in such a way that it struck awe in the hearts of those who listened.[2] This awe and curiosity around the savior is present for a reason. It is a reminder of the curiosity and wonder we are to carry with us in our hearts throughout our lives. So as we go forth to prepare for a new week, find the time to wonder, ask questions and express the awe of the Holy. It just might reveal to you a new truth you never saw before. God might be leading you into a new kind of relationship, a new kind of life. And I guarantee that you will find that God is offering you something that has been missing from your life.

When we wander, we are not always lost. Sometimes there is purpose in the experience of wandering. So, we are being told to be curious enough to explore those moments and to be in wonder of God’s work in those times. Albert Einstein once wrote, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed”.[3] Let’s not stand in life with our eyes closed to God. Let’s allow for the awe and wonder to open our eyes to the wonders that God is doing right here, right now, in our world, in our lives, in our time. Let’s take a moment in the day to allow for the wonder of life to open our hearts to the workings of God, allowing him to guide us in our decisions, in our actions, and in the way that we live into his call.

We never know why we end up where we do in life. But there is always something that God is trying to teach us or reveal to us or provide for us in those experiences. For me it was peace and calm, as I walked through my unintended cemetery trip. What is God trying to speak to you in your lives this year?

[1] Hymns for a Pilgrim People, 117.

[2] Luke 2: 46-47, NRSV.

[3] Albert Einstein, 20th century Physicist.