My grandson’s favorite grape tomatoes ripen to a vivid orange in the sunshine on one of the outside rows of my garden. He literally quivers with delight when we pick them together, filling container after container with their bright beauty–and a small one to stow in his cup holder for the ride home. Children do not take for granted that small orange balls of deliciousness show up in the summer time, that they burst with flavor between your teeth, and that they produce with ridiculous abundance for a short season, and then are gone with the first frost.
As we delight together in the miracle of fruition in my garden, my grandson is schooling me in the practice of awe. In The Gift of Wonder: Creative Practices for Delighting in God, Christine Aroney-Sine has produced a curriculum of awe, reminding readers of spiritual practices which can be as natural and as much a part of our life as eating a ripe tomato. For example, when I’m walking the dog and the bees are hard at work ransacking the honeysuckle bushes for all they are worth, it is an act of worship to stop and listen to their buzzing productivity. The small insects’ devotion to the task at hand instructs me in unity of purpose and focus for my own calling.
Imagination as a Pathway to Loving God
Our big picture thinking ends up shaping the minutes of our days, and the inclusion of delight, playfulness, imagination, and love of nature becomes a scope and sequence that shapes our thinking about God. Embedding the spiritual practice of noticing God at work in the beauty around us sharpens our prayer life and leads us to worship in the present moment. Aroney-Sine works this out personally by taking regular Wonder Walks with her husband, and has introduced me to this spiritually seismic question: “What has God enjoyed today about who I am and what I do?”
The imaginative practice of painting names and inspiring phrases on rocks to serve as prayer reminders is an alternative to structured list-making. Using colored markers and clipboards for note taking during a sermon can heighten comprehension and retention for some listeners. As a gardener, I find that God’s voice comes to me more clearly when my hands are in the dirt.
Finding God in the Present Moment
My grandson’s enjoyment of grape tomatoes is not lessened by the fleeting nature of the season or by foreshadowings of the coming frost. He takes every flavorful bite as it comes, and this ability to live in the present is a gift to the very young, but not inaccessible to adults. Christine gently inquires:
“What distracts you from the Divine Presence and prevents you from fully appreciating the revelation of God in this never-to-be-repeated moment?” (126)
Creative spiritual practices reassure the believer that God is not a workaholic–even as he is always at work! Therefore, the invitation and the example are one. He longs for us to enjoy him and to enter into his singing, buzzing, fluttering, splashing creation as co-creators–lovers of God who bring maximum glory to him.
Many thanks to Intervarsity Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
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