I Wonder

I was thinking about “wonder” this morning when I woke early, not sure what had wakened me but staying prone in my bed while the first thoughts of the day eased out of the small corners of my brain and into my thoughts. Wonder. What is it exactly? What experiences in our life would we list under “wonder”?

Wonder is defined as “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration”. That seems a bit of an understatement to me. My memories of wonder are those moments that filled me with a sense of floating, of total exhilaration. The first time I rode my bike and felt confident I wouldn’t crash into the ditch filled me with wonder, as if I had somehow developed superpowers where before there had been none, riding like the wind under my own power. Or the time I climbed to the top of the barn and sat on the peak of the roof and could see farther than any human had ever seen before, or so I thought, and was amazed that the world might actually extend beyond the Rainy River District. I thought Bonnie Brae Farm on the Rainy River was the centre of the universe and I think perhaps I still do, and I am still filled with the wonder of that sense of home whenever I conjure up memories.

I remember gazing into my newborn baby’s face and seeing complete and utter perfection there and the wonder of this miracle took my breath away, and the humility washed in of my inadequacy to be granted this wonder-filled child on loan, to keep her safe until she could keep herself safe, to guide her path until she could choose her own.

I remember my father pushing me on the swing, higher and higher, my legs pumping with a determined urgency to capture that moment where you are neither going up nor going down, but the world has paused for that tiny second, held on the air, weightless and motionless and ungrounded as if in that space of time anything might be possible.

I remember galloping on Nassau, my grey Arabian gelding, like riding a rocket, with bare legs and bare feet, his mane flying back in my face as we covered the ground, his feet seeming to gallop on air. Even now when I can’t sleep, I close my eyes and gallop with my friend of twenty-five years once again, the steady rhythm of his hooves like a beating heart, his ears moving back and forward to capture my voice urging him on.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and it was his imagination that allowed Einstein to solve some of the mysteries of the universe. Imagination allows us to think outside the box, to solve problems with creativity, to take an idea and give it shape and substance. Imagination gives us the means to dream that things will be better, that all of us will one day be equal, and let that day be soon, that no one will go without because of the colour of their skin, or where they were born, or whom they love, or anything else that we see as a divider rather than a connector.

Einstein went on to say, “For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” And it is in imagination where wonder is born and given sanctuary.