“We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.” G.K. Chesterton~
One year between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I had the blessing of being sick. Good timing. After Christmas. When there’s time for not doing much.
One day: A granddaughter was sick along with me. Two bad cases of winter yuck: coughing and head stuff. We each claimed a couch and a blanket. Since she is the other Rod Serling fan in the family, I put in a DVD of Twilight Zone episodes. Black and white images flickered in the glow of a wood fire and a lit Christmas tree.
We found a twilight of wonder with Serling voicing over our dreams.
The next day: Still sick, but in solitude, I wanted to stitch away some time. To finish restoring a quilt. If I finished it (and applied some Lysol), two granddaughters could dream underneath it for our then-annual New Year’s overnight.
As I sewed, I searched for some background diversion. Flipping channels, I found two-inch deep television. I settled on Netflix and discovered The Little Prince.
It’s a story within a story. An eccentric neighbor relates the story of The Little Prince to a young girl. Her life is consumed with the essentials of preparing for adulthood, her mother having mapped out every waking moment. No time for dreaming. No time for wonder. Only enterprise, but without the vision of wonder.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish,” Proverbs 29:18.
The neighbor shows the girl the stars. Beyond them, she sees what is truly essential—what the neighbor himself has already learned from the little prince.
“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. C.S. 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.”
Without wonder, we have only empty enterprise. We have no virtue and no vision.
On the first night of the New Year, two young girls and I settled down with a bowl of popcorn and The Little Prince. Then they dreamed under the completed quilt.
Soon enough they will be grown-ups, at times consumed with the essentials of everyday living, but the prince reminds us that,
“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”
May we count ourselves among the few who remember—because only those who remember that wonder comes from God can participate in it with Him.