At the beginning of December, my boyfriend suggested that we start searching for things to marvel at together. Struggling with all of the fears and insecurities that come with being a recent college graduate, I was experiencing a period of crippling introspection which prevented me from seeing beyond my own world. Apathy came too easily, and I knew that it wasn’t healthy.
As he helped me through this confusing time, one of his many encouragements was to begin marveling at the small details of the world. To take a moment each day and wonder at the complexity of a natural or mundane process that I would normally take for granted. Doing this served as a constant reminder that the universe is vast and that its craftsman is powerful.
Most of us are far more inclined to worry about the details of daily life than to marvel at them. The details on which we choose to fixate are the ones that directly impact our lives; therefore, they are very important to us. When these things are threatened, we worry. If you woke up one morning and didn’t hear birds chirping or notice the wind blowing outside your window, you probably wouldn’t be too troubled. However, if you woke up one morning and your car refused to start and this made you late for work, you would be incredibly frustrated. We often only take interest in the aspects of life that affect us directly, which is why we can end up easily frustrated. By ignoring less urgent details of each day, we pass up countless opportunities to appreciate complexity and beauty.
By ignoring less urgent details of each day, we pass up countless opportunities to appreciate complexity and beauty.
Consider the device on which you are reading this article. Whether you are reading from your phone, laptop or iPad, you have access to a device that could connect you to nearly anybody you would ever want to contact. The fact that somebody in Rome could send an email to a relative in Los Angeles and have a response waiting in his inbox ten minutes later is almost absurd; the fact that there are people with the ingenuity and intelligence to create devices that enable such connectedness is even more incredible. Something as essential to our daily activities as a cell phone allows us a remarkable amount of access, and yet, we so rarely take the time to consider such complexity.
Outside the realm of technology, the natural world itself gives us reason to marvel. We can’t look out at the ocean for long without being completely overwhelmed by its vastness. Even to trained marine biologists, the deep sea is an unsearchable enigma with more depth and mystery than we could ever hope to uncover. The Census of Marine Life regularly discovers new underwater species that nobody in history has ever documented. On warm summer days we go to the beach and splash around in the shallow shore, often without considering the extent and depth of the water beyond us. Imagine the complexity of this underwater world and the intention with which each of these creatures—both the ones known by man and unknown by man—were crafted.
So, what is the benefit of dwelling on such complexity? Why spend time thinking about something that you couldn’t possibly understand in a few short minutes of wondering? My answer is this: when I wonder, the world expands; I am reminded that I can’t have all the answers and somehow, this is comforting. Instead of feeling an urgency to get to the bottom of life’s countless unknowns, marvel at them, let the world stay big and simply imagine the possibilities.
Instead of feeling an urgency to get to the bottom of life’s countless unknowns, marvel at them, let the world stay big and simply imagine the possibilities.
Practicing marvel has altered my perspective of the world and of its Creator. When I take a moment to dwell on how the sun rises and sets or how my coffee maker turns fine grinds from Guatemala into a warm cup of coffee each morning, I’m reminded of how many intricate processes in life must run smoothly in order for my normal day to occur. The fact that all of these processes come together in such a seamless way makes me confidant that there is an infallible power at work. Such acknowledgement gives me confidence in other areas of life, including my career choices, relationships, and friendships.
Maintaining a sense of wonder can give us all a sense of the divine. If we choose to see that the power behind the universe is also present in mundane daily details, we can learn to find purpose in what our own life contains. More than this, however, we are reminded that we are not alone in those decisions and circumstances, either. Take the time to truly see the world you live in. Each day is rich with opportunities to be challenged by complexity and inspired by beauty. Claim these opportunities and choose to let your world stay big.
What does marveling mean to you? How do you keep your world big?
Images via Cole Stormans and Morgan Ashley