Pacific coast

Pacific coast

“Men go forth to wonder at the heights of mountains,
the huge waves of the sea,
the broad flow of the rivers,
the vast compass of the ocean,
the courses of the stars,
and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
— Saint Augustine

What are we passing by?

Radical Amazement

April 27, 2016



“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . 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.”
— A. J. Heschel, rabbi and scholar




Watercolor sketch of rhododendron

Watercolor sketch of rhododendron




To Be Worthy of the World

August 29, 2014

“I’m thinking it’s a paltry sense of wonder that requires something new every day.  I confess: Wonder is easy when you travel to desert islands in search of experiences you have never imagined, in search of something you have never seen before, in search of wonder, the shock of surprise.  It’s easy, and maybe it’s cheap.  It’s not what the world asks of us.

To be worthy of the astonishing world, a sense of wonder will be a way of life, in every place and time: to listen in the dark of every night, to praise the mystery of every returning day, to be astonished again and again, to be grateful with an intensity that cannot be distinguished from joy.”
— Kathleen Dean Moore, Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature

Fig leaves

Fig leaves



Making a watercolor sketch of a fig leaf

Making a watercolor sketch of a fig leaf

Watercolor sketch of fig leaf

Watercolor sketch of fig leaf



“It’s good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas.”
— Charles Dickens

Captivated by the model trains at Swansons Nursery

Nose pressed to the glass — the wonder of a child

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
— Laura Ingalls Wilder

When is the last time that you pressed your nose to glass to better enter an enchanted world on the other side?  When I saw this child so captivated by the model trains at Swansons Nursery that his nose was just about glued to the glass, I was touched by his childish wonder.  It was a good reminder to hold on to a bit of childish delight myself as I go through the sometimes hectic and imperfect days leading up to Christmas.

“The earth has grown old with its burden of care,
But at Christmas it always is young . . .”
— Phillips Brooks

” . . . Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which man becomes entirely alive.”
— Robert Lynd


A Sense of Wonder

October 21, 2010

Jaguar and child, Woodland Park Zoo

This was my favorite photo from Tuesday’s Zoo Walk.  I had to snap it in a hurry.  The elusive jaguar paused at the window just moments, and the child, too, was a study in motion.  I wonder what passes through a jaguar’s mind when it sees a human being, just its size, inches away but inaccessible.  And imagine the child’s sense of wonder!

 “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in. Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand with the eager, sensitive mind of a child and on the other with a world of complex physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that it seems hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature — why, I don’t even know one bird from another!”

I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused — a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love — then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.”

From The Sense of Wonder, by Rachel L. Carson