The first leans on a skill set that I developed 10 years ago, painting birds on pipes. “Keep watch” and “Attend” came as I tried to retrain my hand in the language of making. I then started “For a moment,” but it felt like a battle.
While stuck in this process, I was reminded of an offering I heard last year by Bethany Allen, a pastor at Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon. She spoke on the practice of wonder. Here’s a small excerpt:
Wonder in many ways is an essential mystery. It is a cultivator and motivator of our desire to seek and understand, and it is often the vehicle that God uses to reveal himself to the world. It is the means by which our horizons expand, helping us to grow into greater faith and belief about what God is up to in the world around us.
Bethany went on to flesh out a way of practising and being alert to this kingdom reality. Its intent is to help us shift our thinking that we might be surprised—or awed—to be moved by a moment or experience, and to allow wonder to wake us up. Ultimately, it’s to allow wonder to draw you—me, us—into something, or someone, greater than ourselves. And to be transformed by it.
She further explained that practising wonder is an invitation to pause and slow down. In our busyness, we often shut out anything that doesn’t aid efficiency; as a result, it’s disturbingly easy to lose a sense of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives and in the world. Practising wonder takes you outside yourself and changes your perspective of yourself and the world. I also think it’s an invitation to repeat: wonder begets wonder.
As I reflected on Bethany’s words, I realised this was the message I was trying to share but without practising it myself. As with all practices, our humanity often gets the better of us. I have practised wonder, and I have wandered from it. Even in this art assignment, I was certain that I had been led to lean into this practice of wonder, and yet I had not paid any attention to it or to anything outside my own head. I was in an artist’s block, struggling to put paint to canvas and doubting there’d be time to finish anything. I knew that I wanted others to see the joy, beauty, and goodness of practising wonder, but I didn’t have the eyes to see or ears to hear myself.