During these December days, Winthrop Square has been filled with every conceivable variety of inflatable Christmas ornaments and figures. Apart from the Santa Clauses and reindeer, Snoopy is over there along with a variety of elves, Grinch himself and lots of snowmen in various sizes and shapes! It is quite a sight to watch the children gawking and giggling as they walk around the square and look at the moving figures, all of which have some kind of animation and lighting.
One of the joys of the season is to observe children as they consider the mystery and the delight of Christmas. All of us love to watch that and in fact, for many of us it is a way to enter into, once again, the loveliness of these days. It seems to me, what we are really observing is the wonder with which children behold and consider not only the Santa Claus and reindeer thing but of course, the beautiful story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
In our adult world, wonder is not a posture readily found in our everyday repertoire. Our approach to the world around us even our relationships, is often cerebral: analytical, studying, processing, thinking about and working through. To wonder is different from all of that. Wonder is our human instinct for the transcendent, the mysterious that which is beyond readily comprehensible logic. Children are experts at wondering, adults not so much.
Some would say that to wonder is a gift from God and that the capacity to wonder is not self-initiated. Poets, artists, composers and others often can provoke us to wonder and when that happens, it is a beautiful thing! To wonder breaks through the limits of our reasoning; it opens an infinite vista to the more. The Jewish theologian Abraham Hershel once wrote, “The person who never wonders can never find God”.
Most of us use the verb to wonder frequently, yet when we do, we are actually doing some kind of a calculation. For example to wonder why the 93 bus is late, is just thinking about the traffic patterns in Sullivan Square or some such. We can also speak of wonder in a much more superficial way when it is simply an expression of curiosity. For example, to wonder how much a gallon of gasoline is costing this week is more mathematics and economics than wondering.
Advent is the perfect time to wonder deeply! To hear the music and lyrics, to listen to the Scripture readings, to pause and closely read the details of our Christmas cards and the messages sent from friends and family; all of this can draw us to the sweet experience of wondering. In truth, we cannot understand what God is doing in our world however; we can grow closer to the truth of God’s love and astonishing actions by wondering!
These few days before the celebration of Christmas join me in some quiet wondering about what all this is about and be prepared to be surprised, even delighted by the fruit of such pondering.
December 19, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Advent
The gospel today presents the beautiful story of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.
This reading gives us much to ponder – Mary’s concern for and willingness to be present to her older cousin,
Elizabeth’s acknowledgement of Mary’s yes to God, her admiration of Mary’s belief in God’s promises.
Who are the people you will visit and be with during this Christmas?
How might this gospel guide your interactions with them?
Pray for the grace to imitate the faith, trust and love of Mary and Elizabeth
in your interactions with your family and friends during this Christmas season