Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most important religious thinkers of the 20th century, once wrote:
“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
I would go so far as to say that at the center of our heart lies a deep reservoir of yearning, an unquenchable need to be amazed. Which is to say, an unquenchable inborn desire to be spiritual.
As I’ve looked through catalogs of speciality beads, charms, and pendants in the course of my craft, I have begun to notice how many items are related to things magical—angels’ wings, fairy houses, mermaids, and sprites. One bead supplier offers no fewer than eighteen different charms featuring fairies!
Is this a sign of our desire to live in a state of amazement and wonder? Are we trying to recapture some childhood sense of awe that has long since been relegated to the dank basements and dusty attics of our grown up consciousness—places where we sometimes remember it must still be, but never go to retrieve it?
A few weeks ago I saw something in my backyard that instantly transported me into that childlike state of wondering amazement. It seemed a magical moment.
A friend had told me that bumblebees bed down for the night on zinnia flowers, so early one morning I went on a bumblebee search in the garden. This is what I found:
And this one had tucked herself in under a leaf as a blanket.
Slumberbees. Gentle guests relying on the hospitality of my garden. Folding up their wings and dozing off, completely naked; completely vulnerable.
(I made sure Sadie wasn’t around, as her sense of wonder tends to be overly boisterous, and often involves teeth.
A little while later the sun had come up and they had flown off. I could see them now visiting other flowers—lavender, cosmos, impatiens—performing their sacred work of pollination.
I now look for them most mornings, and always with a childlike sense of delight and reverence. They are more magical to me than fairies and sprites, mermaids and angels. I will miss them when the weather turns cold. And I will plan to have zinnias again next summer.
Toward the end of his life Rabbi Heschel said,
“Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.”
I asked for wonder. And I received it. It looked like a bumblebee.
— Kris Haig, at Sadie’s Bethel Beadery