“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders,” G.K. Chesterton.
Last week, I had the blessing of being sick. Good timing. After Christmas. When there’s time for not doing much.
Wednesday: A granddaughter is sick along with me. Two bad cases of winter yuck: coughing and head stuff. We each claim a couch and a blanket. I put in a DVD of Twilight Zone episodes. Black and white images flicker in the glow of a wood fire and a lit tree.
We find a twilight of wonder with Rod Serling voicing over our dreams.
Thursday: Still sick, but in solitude, I want to stitch away some time. To finish restoring a quilt. If I finish it (and apply some Lysol), two girls can dream underneath it for our annual New Year’s overnight.
As I sew, I search for some background diversion. Flipping channels, I find two-inch deep television. I settle on Netflix and discover The Little Prince.
It’s a story within a story. An eccentric neighbor relates The Little Prince to a young girl. Her life is consumed with the essentials of preparing for adulthood. Her mother has mapped out every waking moment. No time for dreaming. No time for wonder. Only enterprise, but without vision.
The neighbor shows the girl the stars. Beyond them, she sees what is truly essential—what the neighbor learned from the little prince himself.
“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
When we find wonder—the invisible that shapes our souls—we learn the essence of who we are. And that essence speaks in everything we do.
We learn that the world can be full of patient wonder. And patience is not found in a thirty-minute sitcom that resolves a superficial crisis.
Wonder takes us deeper than two inches. It teaches us to endure. And endurance pays off with a prize. The prince:
“Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.”
Patience is, of course, a virtue. And wonder will always teach us virtue. Lewis shows us what happens when we lack vision and thereby lack wonder:
“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise.”
On the first night of the new year, two girls and I settled with a bowl of popcorn and The Little Prince. Then they dreamed under the completed quilt.
One day they will be grown-ups, at times consumed with the essentials of everyday living.
“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”
My goal? To make sure they are of the few who remember.