The well-known song, “The 12 Days of Christmas,” leads us to believe that the Christmas season should be over by now. As Catholics, we celebrate the season of Christmas through the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This year we celebrate that day on Jan. 9, which is the last day of Christmas and the first day of Ordinary Time (and there’s a Christmas feast day in February, but I’ll save that for another post).
Throughout Advent and now the Christmas season, I’ve been pondering the word “wonder.” I wondered what Mary and Joseph must’ve felt like as they found themselves in their situation. During Christmas, I wondered what the Magi thought as they followed the “Star of Wonder” to meet Jesus. How did they know what to do? How did they trust?
For me, the word “wonder” awakens vivid images of my childhood. We lived in the country with vast corn and soybean fields to the north and east and a wooded forest with a creek running through it to the south and west. This environment made for endless adventures and wonder after wonder — from the simplest rock to the wiggliest worm to the vastness of the universe captured in the design of a single snowflake.
Whenever our family gets together, my brother and sister and I reminisce about those long ago days. And yes, it gives me a “warm fuzzy” to conjure up memories of barefoot escapades on scorching summer days — building forts, climbing trees, drinking from the hose, snitching vegetables from the garden or just laying in the tall grass looking up at the clouds in the sky. In the winter, I recall being so bundled up in snow suits and boots that we could barely make our way outside for whatever winter adventure was on the agenda — creating snow tunnels, sledding, cross country skiing — or staying inside, losing myself in a good book cuddled up with a blanket in front of a warm fire.
In the seriousness of grown-up life, it seems that I have forgotten the joy of wonder. Instead, I wonder how I’m going to pay the mortgage. I wonder if I’m screwing up as a parent. I wonder if my car/refrigerator/snow blower is going to make it another season. Somehow I don’t think that’s the same sense of wonder the Magi felt as they journeyed toward the Christ child. It’s not even the same wonder I felt knowing my face would freeze in the cold air but bundling up in countless layers anyway just to see what new experience might be in store for me.
As I spiritually “bundle up” to face this new year, I feel dressed and ready, clothed in this word “wonder.” My hope is that it will help me grow in my ability to simply stand in awe of the Lord, to spend more time with him, to keep working on trusting more and more, to marvel at the great mysteries left for us to contemplate in Scripture, Creation and each other. I want to look at the world with a holy gaze. I want my eyes to widen and my soul to laugh the same way my children and grandchildren experience the joy of wonder at rocks and worms and snowflakes and clouds.
As we enter Ordinary Time, it’s my goal to cultivate this “excited amazed admiration” (as Merriam Webster defines it) and see the world as anything but ordinary. I already feel the tingle in my toes — barefoot, booted, or otherwise — knowing God will reveal his love for me in amazing ways if I just take the time to look. Where will the new year lead you? I wonder…