A Sense of Wonder

Jeanne - Worthington, Ohio
Entered on September 7, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

The one thing I could say to sum up my beliefs is that the world is a wonder-full place. I don’t mean that everything is great all the time, everywhere. I mean that there is so much in the world to wonder at and be amazed by.

I am a person of religious faith, but I also believe in science. Why would God have to break His own rules when no one is looking? There is so much of Creation and science to see in nature, if I only look. Whether I’m thinking about God or science, I see amazing things everywhere.

I wasn’t always like this. I was a rather backward child and I’m still shy and clumsy. I spoke (with an adult-like vocabulary) at a very young age, and until my late teens, I related better to adults than to my peers. I am also a daydreamer and sometimes appear to be lost in thought when I’m actually paying close attention to what is being said and done. Because of my shyness, clumsiness, and apparent un-with-it-ness, other children were cruel to me. I took refuge at home with my family and at church.

I grew to be a sullen and cynical adolescent. I tried not to let on that I cared about anything, because if I didn’t care, people couldn’t hurt my feelings. I had few friends, I didn’t date, and I isolated myself even from my family. A few of my teachers and the church youth group leader were able to crack my cynical façade and see the care and enthusiasm I really had inside. I excelled academically despite my outlook, and I was able to travel to Mexico as an exchange student when I was sixteen. Travel broadened my horizons and showed me a world I didn’t realize existed. I began to see the wonder of the world a bit, and I became hungry for travel.

My outlook was still cloudy. I floated through my college years. I became more involved with my peers but still felt the need to guard my heart to avoid getting hurt. I was still hungry for travel. After college, I joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Guatemala as a school health educator. Seeing Guatemala’s contrast of poverty and generosity, of empty pockets but rich culture, broke my heart entirely. The love and acceptance of the people I came to know there helped patch it back together.

When I patched my heart back together, perhaps because I was so far outside my comfort zone, I didn’t put a wall around it like before. There was so much beauty to be found in people, in nature, in technology, in art, and in faith. I couldn’t block that out, knowing how I would feel experiencing it! I learned to make the best of any situation, because I never know when I will see something exciting, something new, something holy, or something beautiful. I say no to cynicism and yes to wonder.