Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.
Theologian Douglas Christie says that rather than asking his three-old daughter, “What did you do today?” he prefers to ask, “What did you notice today?” Christie says that by asking his daughter that question he finds himself “noticing” a lot more in his day.
In today’s Scripture we see the wise man of Proverbs is doing a lot of noticing. At the end of Proverbs’ long tribute to wisdom, the wise man stops to notice some incidental wonders of everyday life: an eagle high overhead, a snake slithering across a rock, a ship at sea, but even more, the love of a man and a woman. The wise man stops to notice these things in the course of the day and marvels that they are “too wonderful for me.”
For the wise man of Proverbs wisdom is gleaned from noticing: noticing life, the mysteries of creation, human relationships, and the destiny of nations. All these things are to be noticed and wondered at. Just like the psalmist he “will tell of all God’s wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1). The wise man knows that wisdom is somehow related to noticing and wondering.
The Scotch philosopher Thomas Carlyle said, “Wonder is the basis of worship.” Before we can offer up genuine worship we must first be astonished at God, at His creation, incarnation, redemption and amazing grace.
Wonder seemed to come naturally to me as a child as everything was new and amazing. It was all a miracle to me! But then I grew older and started to take things for granted. And in taking things for granted, the wonder wore off. And in losing wonder I lost the heart of worship. I sang Amazing Grace, but God’s grace no longer amazed me. I wasn’t noticing, I simply wasn’t paying attention. So now, along with the daily disciplines of prayer and Bible reflection, I like to notice. And as I notice it soon leads me into worship.
Jewish philosopher Abraham Heschel spoke often about the human need for “radical amazement” at God and life. He wrote about a daily discipline that I would call “noticing”:
Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement….to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.
When asked by an interviewer what he thought was his greatest gift, Heschel replied: “My ability to be surprised.”
I think the ability to be surprised by God and His world is something we can develop. It begins by everyday stopping to notice the wonder of life and of God. Now, as I am getting older, I am determined to be more childlike, to awaken everyday ready to notice and be surprised. G. K. Chesterton promised “The world will never starve for want of wonders, but for want of wonder.”
I wonder…What did you notice today?
Grace and peace,