Saturday, August 13, 2011


Wonder and Action

This week I’ve been in New York State and Ohio. While the trip was primarily about visiting family and helping out with some things, there was also time to be outdoors. Some dramatic skies as weather systems changed, an evening and morning at Niagara Falls, and walks in parks offered opportunities for wonder. Any sort of trip or activity becomes recreation in its true sense when we are open to seeing and experiencing opportunities for wonder. This is re-creation, joining with God in delight and love for all of God’s creation, experiencing the creation anew.

This week’s experience of the form of contemplation we call ‘wonder’ has been well-timed. I’m returning to Nebraska for a few days before heading to Washington, D.C. for some advocacy work (and no doubt for some more opportunities for wonder). After that, lots of work is ahead in Nebraska this fall.

It reminds me that while the distinction between contemplation and action is perhaps a useful way to talk about some of our religious experience, it is not a real distinction; contemplation and action are inseparable parts of a whole life. In its wider sense, contemplation refers to a variety of things such as wonder, different types of prayer, and reflection on Scripture. These contemplative practices give us a way to listen for God and discern the more active practices – e.g. service, teaching, administration – to which God is calling us. In particular, this week’s experience of wonder while anticipating the activities coming up in the weeks ahead reminded me that holy action must always be grounded in contemplation.