Restoring a Sense of Wonder in the Internet Age

Never question the truth of that which you fail to understand. For the world is filled with wonders.

L. Frank Baum (‘Rinkitink In Oz’ from Land of Oz series)

One of the many drawbacks to this easy-access, instant-information era, in which we can ‘Google’ almost anything, is that the lure and luster of wonder have drastically diminished. While it may seem delightfully practical to have all the facts at our fingertips, the problem is that faith, wisdom, and ideas might be on the chopping block along with actual research.

I remember the wonder, awe and the excitement of discovering whole hidden worlds when I was a boy.  The woods and lake in Danville, Illinois, where I spent countless hours with my friends were so much more than places or destinations.  We were eager and able to focus up and down with magnificent dexterity when we were children.  At one moment our eyes were microscopes that found tiny crawling things in the grass, under rocks, and in the water. 

Life was teeming beneath our feet.  Small hands explored every detail without concern for time.  At another moment our eyes were binoculars or telescopes which identified clouds that looked like dinosaurs or monsters or any other imaginable thing.  Life was exploding just above our heads.  We created forts and trails that were home to wild adventures.  Play came naturally and was unsupervised by incredulous or judgmental adults.  But the hidden worlds gave way to demands of another reality too soon.

The wonders of life and capacity for spiritual growth spring forth from those things which we don’t understand. When presented with new experiences, problems that seem unsolvable, challenges beyond tested limits, and unexplored beliefs, we expand our ideas to become someone who is changed. The fact that we can’t fix a meaning to what is happening is pivotal. It is the birth of wonder.  God is speaking to us in such moments.

That is something you just can’t Google. 


Other Resources:

The Sense of Wonder
Why we need to preserve this vital capacity and how solitude can help.

Embracing Faith; The Mystical, Magical Flight of Christmas

“I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap, and then you grow wings.” ~ William Sloane Coffin

One of the magical messages of Christmas which we are asked to explore during Advent is that faith, like love, is here regardless of our willingness to recognize it. We don’t have to trust this…and we don’t even have to believe it.  In fact, we don’t have to do anything.  Faith is just there regardless of our acceptance. 

Words of the poet Rilke sweep over me and fill me with wonder when he says that in faith “there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” 

The mystical wisdom of Jesus who compares faith to a mustard seed boggles my mind.  The tiniest little seed was planted in each of us.  And it has the capacity to move mountains.  How could it be that our faith which seems so fleeting and fragile is so ever-present and strong?  Perhaps because it never really leaves us.

Our always-possessed faith whispers the truth to us that darkness can never endure.  It proves over and over that good will overcome evil.  It brings love forward and casts hatred aside.  It dispels worry and asks us to simply do the-next-right-thing.  We are not meant to understand faith.  This isn’t necessary and perhaps not even possible. Just take the leap.  Your wings will appear and provide a magnificent flight. Everything will be okay.

Have Some Faith; A Message of the Christmas Season

I know you want to question everything, but sometimes it pays to just have a little faith.”

Lauren Kate

Our senses are bombarded with stories of conversions and restoration of faith during Advent and Christmastime. 

The tales have been woven into the fabric of our culture beginning on Thanksgiving with “The Miracle on 34th Street” and continue to infuse us for the next days and weeks until The Wonderful finally arrives on Christmas Day. Most all of us have seen these movies dozens of times. 

Yet, the hard-hearted becoming soft and compassionate, the miser becoming generous, and the troubled being saved, always seem to find a way of evoking sentimental feelings.  The reason is, of course, that this is the heart of our Christmas experience.  We are all hoping that we will be better people and that the world will become a kinder place.

The 2nd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Faith. One of the stories that always moves me is that of Saint Therese of France who had an incredible awakening in 1886 at age 14.  A simple thing had happened.  She had reached an age when the Christmas tradition of leaving her shoes by the fireplace in anticipation of presents was at an end. 

She completed the ritual with her parents after which she heard her father exclaim that he was thankful they would never have to do it again.  She began weeping, but the sadness was replaced by an incredible ‘white-light’ experience in which she was given a message of conversion by God.  The rest of her life became a testimony of Christmas which brought major changes to the Catholic Church. 

Christmas conversion and resilience of faith resonates deeply because, as Saint Therese shows us, the grace of God is always at work.  It is the lesson at the heart of The Wonderful.  In the ordinary, warm earthiness of a stable God is born and new life comes to the earth.

Going Down to the Crossroads

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″][et_pb_row _builder_version=”3.0.48″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.9″]

 

“You are now at a crossroads. This is your opportunity to make the most important decision you will ever make.” ~ Anthony Robbins

Here we are…at another Crossroad.  Which way to go?  It is not that one way seems less traveled by than the other.  It would almost be easier to be in a woods like Robert Frost and follow an untrodden, strangely dangerous, and unconventional path.

But this is one of those crossroads so often found in the rural Midwest, laid out in neat sections of corn and bean patchwork.  Standing on flat ground with an endless horizon, it seems the choice of direction is almost mundane.  We know it’s important to make a choice but indecision has frozen us in place.

There is no use in procrastinating…no need for ‘sinking down’ or giving up.  Because we are not alone in our Crossroad decisions when we trust ‘that which is unknown by us is fully known by God and the universe’. Here is what has to happen.  We must let go and take a few faltering steps with faith and trust that God is in charge of the outcome. We will discover or rediscover that we are…and always have been…in good hands.

Today I will experience life fully at the Crossroad by stepping out with faith, and trust.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” _builder_version=”3.5.1″ header_font=”||||||||” header_text_align=”left” header_font_size=”26px” body_font=”||||||||” body_font_size=”14px” body_line_height=”1.4em” border_radii=”on|1px|1px|1px|1px” border_width_all=”2px” border_color_all=”#d4cfc4″ border_radii_image=”on|29px|29px|29px|29px” text_orientation=”left” max_width=”89%” module_alignment=”center” custom_margin=”38px|||” custom_padding=”47px|33px|0px|32px” filter_saturate=”95%” animation_style=”fade” global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

[/et_pb_team_member][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

The Promise and Acceptance of Faith

[et_pb_section fb_built=”1″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ custom_padding=”13px|0px|54px|0px”][et_pb_row custom_padding=”22px|0px|40px|0px” _builder_version=”3.0.47″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.0.47″ parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on”][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.101″ background_size=”initial” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat”]

“Faith’s only real demand on us is that we trustfully keep moving forward into the unknown.  How things turn out in the end is not up to us.” ~ Paula Huston

Walking the path of life, while maintaining faith, can be a tricky project.  There are so many distractions.  Alluring temptations of power, fame, and the savory or sensational, wave us in their direction.  Pitfalls of disappointment, resentment, sadness and grief whisper to us that we are all alone.  These interferences lead us on a well-worn trail that is ego driven and desolate.

Faith becomes a meaningless notion when the results depend upon us.  After all, in the words of author Richard Leonard, SJ; “Where the hell is God?”  Where is God when we are tempted?  Where is God when we are full of grief?  Where is God when things go wrong?  Why are my prayers falling on deaf ears?  Why should we have such capricious faith anyway?

God is not distant. 

This is the promise of faith.  The experience of living in the world with the pleasures and storms which come our way can be challenging.  There are no guarantees that things will be easy just because we have faith.

What we have is a God who never leaves us.  We can go to the depths and rise to the heights but God hangs right in there.  The answer to the question ‘Where the hell is God’ comes as a gentle whisper saying; “I am with you always.  Everything I have is yours.”

When we are battered and beaten, God is at our side.  When we fall and skin our knees, God is there to be with us.  We cannot be separated. Faith is simply an acceptance of that truth.

Today I will step out with assurance that I am not stepping out on my own.  I am held in the arms of a loving God.

_____________________________________
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_team_member name=”Robert Kenneth Jones” position=”Columnist” image_url=”https://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/robert.jpg” facebook_url=”https://www.facebook.com/KenJonesBoy” linkedin_url=”https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-kenneth-jones-8861183/” admin_label=”Robert Kenneth Jones” _builder_version=”3.0.101″ global_module=”26968″ saved_tabs=”all”]

Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

[/et_pb_team_member][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

The Coming of Spring

by Robert Kenneth Jones

“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!” ~ Chief Sitting Bull

The Vernal Equinox 2018 in Northern Hemisphere arrived at 11:15 AM Central time yesterday, Tuesday, March 20. Spring has sprung and the weather-people are already predicting what the season will bring and what kind of summer will follow.

What we know is that the long winter is over. 

Though some cold, snow and ice may show up in the next few days and weeks, the end of their reign is done.  Only a few months ago we welcomed the first falling flakes in anticipation of holidays with gatherings of friends and family.  Then, after being homebound, scooping too many driveways, being stuck at the side of the road, we moaned at the thought of more winter.  When would it ever end!?  Well, now is the time.

Winter yields to Spring (photos and collage by Bob Jones)

We have been blessed by spring’s arrival and turned the wintry corner onto the path of new beginnings. Even in the midst of long-suffering there appear daffodils, crocus and tulips.  Even when we are ready to cash in and give up, there the reminder that though hard times may come, they will also leave.

Springtime is all about renewal of life, renewal of joy and renewal of faith.  The season reminds us that we are not condemned to death. Indeed, life is both good and filled with wonder.  Happy, Happy Spring!

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature…the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~ Rachel Carson

________________________________

About the Author

In a career spanning over four decades, Robert Kenneth Jones has been an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse. His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Links

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast