The “Wonder” of Wonderful

Dear Reader:

Every time one of the grandchildren walks through the garden I snip a tiny piece of a rosemary stem off for them to carry…so the “wonder”ful aroma stays with them throughout the garden. (It is as if they forget each time and marvel over the smell again and again!)

I do this because I want them to know that gardens contains all five senses within it….the sight of it…the sound of the water from the fountain and the chimes tinkling in the breeze, the smell of the rosemary, the touch of the different textures of trees, bushes, and plants, and the taste of calm and serenity that the garden brings…quite palatable to our entire body of senses.

To have five senses (given each of us) is a thing of wonder and awe… a wonderful thing…but have we all forgotten that modern language has taken the “wonder” out of “wonderful?”

Merriam-Webster has an interesting perspective on the ‘watering down’ of the word “wonderful” in the following passage: “How Wonderful Lost its Sense of Wonder.”

The word’s original meaning seems to be hiding in plain sight: “full of wonder.” Yet it is very seldom used in that way anymore; today wonderful is most frequently used to mean “extremely good” (as in “a wonderful meal”).

Noah Webster only presented one sense of wonderful in his 1828 dictionary:

WONDERFUL, adjective Adapted to excite wonder or admiration; exciting surprise; strange; astonishing. Job 42:3.

It’s clear that wonderful in this Old Testament passage means “astonishing” and not “extremely good”:

Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.
—Job 42:3

As late as 1899, it was probably clear that readers of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz were meant to feel more awe than admiration for the title character—a point that may be surprising to us today.

* The word wondrous by contrast, has drifted very little from its original meaning over the centuries. Will  wonders never cease?

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I plead guilty to using “wonderful” too much in my writings…I am definitely a perpetrator in this over-indulgence of the watered-down version of the word. So when I saw an article on this exact topic…I read it and wanted to share it with you…because it made me feel happy and… well… full of wonder! But first….the Boo Easter Bunny is busy filling baskets.

*Filling Easter baskets makes me happy knowing the grandchildren’s eyes will be filled with wonder.…SH! Top secret! Here are the four oldest grandchildrens’ baskets ready….Eloise’s is a little different with some special baby items-just some “little peep” things…sorry no chocolate this year Eloise!

“What Happens When We Wonder?”

Katie Steedly

Awakin Weekly

When I think about wonder I think about waterfalls, newborn babies, and whales. I think about seeds, snowflakes, and rainbows. I think about lightening, skyscrapers, and silk. Wonder defies description. Wonder often leaves me speechless. Wonder does not happen every day.

What happens when we experience wonder?

People get along. When people are struck with wonder, they generally are not yelling, arguing, fighting, or angry. Wonder brings people together. We all agree that flowers are wonderful. We all agree that ducklings are wonderful. We all agree that coral reefs are wonderful. Butterflies? Wonderful. Chocolate? Wonderful. Sunsets? Wonderful. Wonder provides a moment where we can hold hands, (perhaps) tear up, and find common ground.

The noise of life fades. A silence akin to speechlessness falls when we experience wonder. A gentle hush that is beyond words eases tension. Reflection paints wonderful moments with reverence. Wonder is calm in the chaos of the world. I learned this on the road to Hana in Maui, when I had to be reminded that my iPhone was not as important as the majesty of a volcano. I had to let the noise go and be present to the wonder of the moment.

The best parts of ourselves guide our thoughts and actions. Gratitude, compassion, and understanding happen during wonderful moments. Our interconnectedness, our stories, our dreams, our histories connect us when we allow ourselves to feel wonder: to really see, to really touch, to really taste, and to really hear. Creating and being present to moments of wonder in our lives builds our best selves. We have less time to be less than our potential when we experience wonder. Our sights are set higher.

We are connected to the natural world. Nature is wonder. Glaciers. Fjords. Mangroves. Mountains. Coral Reefs. Oceans. All animals. All plants. All stars and planets and galaxies. There is wonder when we see beauty in all of that, and feel related and interdependent and grateful. Appreciating and respecting the wonder of the natural world creates an environment of protection and stewardship in which future generations will also know wonder in nature.

Miracles can happen. Wonder makes me believe in miracles. Every day is a miracle. The sun rising. My heart beating. My breath flowing in and out of my lungs. The fact that all that happens with perfection is miraculous. Let me take it a step further. Our capacity to experience awe, for our jaws to drop and for time to stand still, is a miracle. Feeling wonder, and the joy and happiness of it, is a miracle. May we know more, and more, and more wonder.

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So until tomorrow…May the wonder of this week, Holy Week, fill us with awe, again and again, that one man could love us the way Jesus loved and continues to love us…giving the ultimate sacrifice, His life, for us…so we, too, can have everlasting life. How wondrous is that?

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

And look at this wonder Anne sent me in this picture. She planted more daffodil bulbs this past fall and waited excitedly for the daffodils to appear…nothing…the green shoots came up…looking healthy and strong…but no daffodils. And then suddenly two days ago something caught her eye…is it possible…this late? Are they going to bloom…hope is in the air again. Such wonder!

 

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About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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7 Responses to The “Wonder” of Wonderful

  1. bcparkison says:

    And yes…the wonder of God’s creation all around us proclaiming his love for us.

    Like

  2. Becky Dingle says:

    Bingo!!!!!

    Like

  3. Sparkyjen says:

    I Still Love using all of my 5 senses. I wrote it this way because you have to take the time to do this. Awareness is key. The child in us has to be present. That’s when ‘awe’ can, will, and does come a calling.

    Kids definitely get into enjoying any and everything around them. And you can tell by their glee just how much. Some adults need to be re-tutored in how to get back into the swing of living a life full of wonder. In my mind, it’s a blessing!!!

    Like

    • Becky Dingle says:

      Thank you for taking time to comment on my blog post. It is much appreciated and we share similar views when it comes to maintaining a childlike wonder all our lives. Perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt said it best: “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” (and wonder)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sparkyjen says:

        Oh my. Eleanor is one of my heroes. I can actually hear her mouthing those words to the very ears that would take them to heart. She was all about growth from baby shoes up. Zounds!

        Thanks for sharing✨

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jo Dufford says:

    Growing up, we sang a hymn by Isaac Watts called “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”. It was published in 1707. The words really touched me and they still do. Although that adjective isn’t used much today, in that song, it really puts the WONDER, awe, amazement into the message of Holy Week. Once Paul Harvey imagined he interviewed Barabbas, and in the interview, he tells so powerfully the words of Barabbas as Barabbas speaks in amazement and WONDER at what just happened on that cross, “Don’t you understand, man, He died for me?” Thanks for reminding us of the power of that word. Have a blessed Easter!

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    • Becky Dingle says:

      I love this Jo…perfect example of wondrous over wonderful. It is one of my favorite hymns too. And I loved Paul Harvey…I must look up that story/interview for a blog post for Easter…how powerful! Thank you so much for sharing! Happy Easter Jo!

      Like

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