Sleeping on the floor

I worked at a high school Confirmation retreat all weekend… hanging out with about 70 or so teenagers… sleeping on the floor / no showers / 18 hour days / playing my guitar until my left arm about fell off.  It was great!

Watching young people meet the Body-of-Christ up close and personal in a way they hadn’t encountered before?  Priceless!

It is these kinds of experiences that keep my heart alive for ministry with teenagers.

They have a yearning for wonder and awe… but it’s funny because most of them don’t recognize it.

Gifts of the Spirit

One of the activities I led was about the Gifts of the Spirit.  Here’s a quick refresher for you:  Wisdom / Understanding / Knowledge / Right Judgment / Courage / Reverence / Wonder and Awe.

Even before we are confirmed, God gives us these gifts to help us be better people… good disciples.

In the sacrament of Confirmation, God gives these gifts with even more gusto… and by grace we are compelled even further toward a life of faith and discipleship.  [At least that’s what I tried to tell them.]

I asked them this question:  Does anything surprise you anymore?  Because I hear “Yea… whatever” from teenagers a lot.  Do you ever have a sense of wonder?

I am sad to report that not a single young person said they remember having an experience that left them in wonder or awe.

They all like to know exactly what’s coming down the pike… to be in control… and when an unexpected something comes up… they freak out!  Some to a greater degree than others… but the bottom line is that they like to be-in-the-know.

We all do.

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

But we also know that unexpected bumps in the road are part-and-parcel of everyday life.  If we were in total control, what a boring life it would surely be.  [Still… there are days when it sounds appealing… right?]

I had to wonder [ ! ]… where do teenagers learn this?  This lack of wonder.

It’s hard to admit even silently… they learn it from us.

Their parents… family… teachers… coaches… priests… Confirmation teachers…basically almost any adult in their lives.

I think overall we have by-and-large lost our own sense of wonder… in lieu of knowing what’s coming-down-the-pike.

Sure… we are reminded of God’s wonder when we stumble upon a brilliant sunrise / sunset / harvest moon rising… or the smell of a newborn baby… or the majestic overlook in Yosemite Valley.

But do we have a sense of wonder walking into the office cubicle… or wading through crowded sidewalks or airports… or even simply smelling aromatic coffee at Starbucks?

I think we forget about wonder and awe in the footsteps of everyday living and breathing.  Wonder is reserved for vacations / exotic places / retreats from the mundane… which really only occur in a very small fraction of all the breaths that will ever fill our lungs.

Let Us Be People-of-Wonder

It can be really hard to intentionally focus our attention in wonder.  But… let us be people of wonder!

To be filled with wonder and awe… means we are present to this very moment.

To be present to this very moment… means we see and feel all of life deeply.

To see and feel all of life deeply… means we are truly alive!

To be truly alive… means we say Thank you God.

Let us People-of-Wonder.


About Elaine Menardi

Heading off on a new adventure! I solve problems and make ideas happen.

2 responses »

  1. Robert Chorey says:

    One of my philosophy profs said “wonder” is essential. And our retreat guide for the priests retreat last spring says we need to take a 5 minute fascination break a couple of times a day.

    Soooo with ya sister.

    • I love that idea! Fascination breaks!
      I think it goes hand in hand with ‘extraordinary product’. We should take fascination breaks in meetings to wonder about our extraordinary product and how our ministries inspire wonder in people… that could be a great action step.
      Thanks for your wisdom! It’s inspired my brain and my soul 🙂
      Peace out.

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