Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Beginning of Wisdom

"Full of Wonder"
- Moonrise at the Desert Retreat House -

For some reason or other, over the past several years I have found local "coffeeshops" to be places in which I learn a great deal about life - they are my classrooms and my great cathedrals. My experience at a coffeehouse yesterday was no exception.

As I sat in a corner sipping my iced tea I noticed a little toddler a few tables away. He was there with his mom who was busy talking on the phone while her child was left to his own devices. The longer I sat (trying not to stare too much) I realized that a great drama was unfolding before me, a life-lesson about our human nature.  

Whenever the door to the coffeeshop would open, the little child would gleefully run toward it and gaze in wonder. He watched carefully as the door opened and closed, following its every move,  listening intently to the little squeaky sounds the door was making. And every time that door would close the little one would stand in its wake and giggle as the warm breeze brushed against his face.  

A I observed this little boy joyfully experiencing the wonder of a simple door opening and closing,  I found myself almost envying him, "ahh to be able to see the world with awe and wonder once again."

Rachel Carson once said:

A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and enchantment.
It is our misfortune that for most of us
that clear-eyed vision, that instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring,
is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

Yesterday as I sat and watched that child I thought about how my many years of education and my adult predisposition to figure out and to control everything had kept me from experiencing a world as fresh and beautiful, full of wonder and enchantment. 

Socrates said:

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom

As I watched that little one in the coffeeshop I thought to myself that maybe that small child was actually wiser than me. Looking at the world in wonder he experienced a great mystery - beautiful movement, enchanting sounds, a springtime breeze caressing his face.  He opened his heart in wonder and wisdom rushed in to claim his existence. I want to be wise like that again. 

What I learned yesterday in my coffeehouse classroom has helped to clear my mind and be sure that my heart is always open to the revelations of every moment.   After all, I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth out here in the desert. 

As the moon rose up over the mountains in the desert skies, piercing through the palm trees and reflecting in the olive branches, I looked at it in wonder and realized that perhaps, even after all these years, I am now at the beginning of wisdom.

The Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu once saud:

From wonder into wonder existence opens up.


  1. What a wonderful encounter. It's like watching kittens play. Kittens and little kids have no preconceived desires. They just experience them.