I've been reading a lot of David James Duncan -- one of my favorite writers. (Get a copy of "River Teeth" from Amazon when you can. They're cheap! A fantastic collection of short stories.)
Anyhow... I read this passage earlier today and it jumped out at me:
Wonder is my second favorite condition to be in, after love, and I sometimes wonder whether there's a difference; maybe love is just wonder aimed at a beloved.
Wonder is like grace, in that's it's not a condition we grasp; it grasps us.
Wonder is not an obligatory element in the search for truth. We can seek truth without wonder's assistance. But seek is all we'll do; there will be no finding. Unless wonder descends, unlocks us, turns us as slack-jawed as plastic shepherds, truth is unable to enter. Wonder may be the aura of truth, the halo of it. Or something even closer. Wonder maybe the caress of truth... touching our very skin.
Philosophically speaking, wonder is crucial to the discovery of knowledge, yet has everything to do with ignorance. By this I mean that only an admission of our ignorance can open us to fresh knowings. Wonder is the experience of that admission: wonder is unknowing, experienced as pleasure.
Punctuationally speaking, wonder is a period at the end of a statement we've long taken for granted, suddenly looking up an seeing the sinuous curve or a tall black hat on its head, and realizing it was a question mark all along.
As a facial expression, wonder is the letter O our eyes and mouths make when the state itself descends. O: God's middle initial. O: because wonder Opens us.
Wonder is anything taken for granted -- the old neighborhood, old job, old life, old spouse -- suddenly filling with mystery. Wonder is anything closed, suddenly opening: anything at all opening -- which, alas, includes Pandora's Box, and brings me to the dark side of the thing. Grateful as I am for this condition, wonder has -- like everything on Earth -- a dark side. Heartbreak, grief, and suffering rend openings in us through which the dark kind of wonder pours. I have so far found it impossible to feel spontaneously grateful for these violent openings. But when, after struggle, I've been able to turn a corner and at least accept the opening, the dark form of wonder has invariably helped me endure the heartbreak, the suffering, the grief.
Wonder is not curiosity. Wonder is to curiosity what ecstasy is to mere pleasure. Wonder is not astonishment, either. Astonishment is too brief. The only limit to the duration of wonder is the limit of our ability to remain open.
I believe some people live in a state of constant wonder. I believe they're the best people on Earth. I believe it is wonder, even more than fidelity, that keeps marriages alive. I believe it's wonder, even more than courage, that conquers fear of death. I believe it is wonder, not D.A.R.E. bumper stickers, the keeps kids off drugs. I believe, speaking of bumper stickers, that it's wonder, even more than me, who I want to "HUG MY KIDS YET TODAY," because wonder can keep on hugging them, long after I'm gone.
-- David James Duncan, from 6 Henry Stories
John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light at Red Rocks.
CAN YOU HEAR ME
by John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light. Directed by David Dyster/Umbrella Brigade.