Wednesday, January 8, 2014


“As civilization advances, the sense of wonder almost necessarily declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder. “ Abraham Heschel.

Why do we lose that sense of wonder? It isn’t that we’re too busy working to look up. Monks and farmers worked sunrise to sunset and then some in the cycle of the seasons. Sailing ships had to depend on the tides to set out, come to harbor. The sailing master had to know the seasons that the winds blew the right directions and pray that the ship could stand the storms.

Perhaps it isn’t that we’re too busy. Perhaps we just don’t have to. Insulated from wind, weather, seasonal changes we go on our way is if they don’t even exist. Except when Mother Nature reaches out, grabs us by the shoulder and shouts “pay attention.” Two thirds of the country has been facing that this week as brutal cold reached all the way to the Gulf. Meanwhile Australia is setting records for high temps.

Heschel was writing in the late forties before we managed to turn night into day in major parts of our largest cities. If you’re working swing shirt in a cubicle in a building with no windows it doesn’t matter what time the sun sets and you’ll never see the glory of the setting sun. And you’ll probably be asleep at sunrise and forget how the sky looks as it shifts from black to pearl gray to the lightest blue as the stars fade from sight.

Too many of us look at a forest and only see board feet of timber. Too few of us look at a Joshua tree on the edge of the southern desert; twisted and almost ageless. A tree that put down roots before the Roman Empire fell and feel the sheer wonder of the history that has happened during the lifetime of that tree.

I love traditional Celtic music. They played what the heard. The wind in the trees. The whisper of a brook. The little waves lapping as the tide turned. They played what they heard and we play what we hear. The roar of engines, the grinding of gears, the incessant noise of traffic. No wonder the so called civilized world is half mad.

In the mean time a certain senator from Oklahoma stated earlier in the week that obviously there’s no such thing as global warming because “it’s cold.”  ?????????

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