Recently, on a coffee date in a newly found West Loop coffeeshop with magnificently creamy smooth lattes set before us, one of my newest sweet friends told me that she saw in me a strong sense of wonder.
She told me that and I wondered at it.
I think it may be true, although I didn’t realize it before she said it. In fact, I think wonder is why I keep finding it not only possible but enticing to write little things for this blog and post them on the internet for the world to see and pick apart and think about or ignore. There’s so much to wonder at. So much to say, to feel, to ask people if they’ve noticed too. So I just push the publish button, sometimes unsure even why, finding myself left alone at the computer pointing at little tiny ideas, things I’m not even certain at all about. Pointing with my same simple fingers. And wondering.
These past few months since moving to Chicago have presented me with a lot of time to think, be, walk, examine, investigate, wonder. Hours and hours of wondering. I’ve padded my way through the soft and hard hallways of the internet, I’ve ordered more books through inter-library loan than are humanly possible to read in these short months, I’ve worked my way through longform New Yorker articles while “watching the kids at the playground”, I’ve scrolled instagram in between homework questions, I’ve listened to podcast episode after podcast episode while walking home down Polk Street.
And there is so much. Everyone, it seems, has something to say. And smart things! I rarely find useless things, the drivel of the internet and publishing world, or maybe my eye somehow misses them and instead falls on the treasures, too many to gather. So many avenues to encounter and cross. Novels and essays and songs and stories. Poems and laments, books of the Bible and thoughts of the desert fathers. Paintings and memories, stacks of papers and magazines. And the sky, the plants, stars, television. My husband’s ideas, quilting and knitting, beautiful clothing and even more beautiful food, made with love. Women with dreams, children who are only just starting, small animals, birds way up past where I can see. God, big and everywhere, whispering and loving me, my hands which can do so much, my legs, stronger than I thought they were. Underground tunnels, the Wright Brothers, surrogate mothers in Nepal, fancy lifestyle bloggers who somehow make money, the clackety classic elevated train that I take to the loop on Fridays. Like it’s no big deal. I’m an artist, darn it! I must be! But what shall I even make? I’m more interested right this moment in the things already made, the wonders of the world, the sheer mass of it all, matter, heavy, made of rocks and air.
Oh, I am very overwhelmed by wonder, inundated by the volume of things to hold dear, memories to collect, thoughts to catalogue, save endlessly for later, later. I want to take pictures of everything. I want to write the story of my life and your life too, to spend my life tapping on keys, to slow down and speed up, to sing every song, all the old ones, and then scrap it all and write new ones to sing. Why don’t I know how to play the piano? Where’s my loom so I can weave? Bring me all the children, I want to hold them close to me and tell them they are fantastic and smart. I haven’t even tried all the pizza on Taylor street yet! I want to dance with everyone, I want to be quiet for as long as I want to, I want to cry at my childhood, all the things I forget, and the things I remember I want to shout from the top of a building somewhere.
Honestly, maybe it has all sort of tripped me up, stopped me short of myself, awkward in the middle of the sidewalk, eyes glassy. Wondering. I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of a waterfall with arms opened wide, mouth open too, trying to catch it all and utterly failing. I can’t catch the world, it’s way too big and great and heavy and I am small and my legs are only so strong, stronger than I thought, but not enough. These are rushing months. Whooshing months. Tiring, worldworn months. Overwhelming throat full of sweet water months. And Jesus in all of it who I should always wonder at while I wander out under the sky. Do I forget you too much? Are you buried under the moon and the birds way up high and the 12 internet tabs I’m saving to read for later?
It’s Advent and I feel like I’m waiting for a lot of things, Jesus, yes, always Jesus, but myself too. And rest most of all. A little less adrenaline. A little more quiet. A bit of the release from the wonderful waterfall. My soul wants a pleasant stream, quiet water, soft ripples, the shepherd whose voice I know without having to wonder at all urging me to drink, but not too much. Only what I need. A little at a time. The water is wide. There is enough, scores enough, years enough for us. But for now I’m here till sometime, here under the waterfall, the internet tabs, the whispers of God quiet behind the din of podcasts and Barbra Streisand. Wondering at everything I find and think and hear like a child. Like I’ve only just now learned how to see. Wonder I don’t want to lose or forget. Wonder even at still glassy streams.
There is coming a day where I won’t have so much time, where I’ll somehow have a real job or more responsibility or some sense of purpose that goes beyond happily murmuring with my husband, stitching, and answering 2nd grade math questions while my mind shouts and zips, cataloging wonders. These are the wondering days, I suppose, and I’m doing them, lest I forget. Lest I lose it and wander without wondering. With head down, heavy limbs. I’m not sure that will happen, but I am sure that this is a season, a tide that will change, a time of feasting that will be followed, as always, with fasting. So I’ll feast. Baguettes in my grocery cart. One more pizza slice, please. Pass the pecan pie, and the Meg Ryan films, all of them, and the Hey Natalie Jean, and sparkling apple juice, and the Charlie Brown Christmas album in all its classic jazzy glory, and the New Yorker so i can just wonder wonder wonder at everything.
And sometime, somehow, oh Lord, somehow, I’ll find my way, meandering, with nothing but myself and my simple pointing fingers, to the stream.