“Without wonder, learning was dead.” ~ Taylor Caldwell, pp 34, Glory and the Lightning, 1974
Classic literature transcends generations. It is embedded with truths that not only lived during the author’s time frame, but continue to live in each succeeding age. That is how it got its name. The cool thing about classic books? They give you a tiny window, constructed in an author’s mind, that allows us to peek into the past. The words. The themes. The struggles. The technology (or the lack thereof). The family structure. The society and mores. Elements of life that come alive once again through the words of an individual who took the time to open the window for the rest of us, and it allows us to wonder.
My husband, kids, and former students will tell you that I wonder a lot. They will tell you I drive them nuts with questions that they can’t answer. A lot of times, I just wonder. Sometimes, I’m driven to try to find an answer. My favorite thing to do in a new locale is to go to historical museums or older areas of the town – longing to find a new window to peer through. If I’m brave enough and strong enough, I may even open the window I am gazing through, and let the sweet breeze of knowledge filter through my essence and become part of who I am. Wonder becomes the first step to wisdom.
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Prov 4:7 (NIV)
In college, I thought I knew a lot about the Bible. In fact, I was pretty sure I had a complete handle on it. I had “read” most of it by then (skipping over those really boring “begetting” parts and tedious laws of the OT…after all, what relevance did they have since Christ brought the New Covenant?), had gone to church, Bible school, Sunday school my entire life, and debated it many times with friends and family in my life. Not much to wonder about in the Bible (or so I thought) since I already “knew” it. What else was there? So I decided to take “Bible as Classic Literature” at The Ohio State University as one of my electives. Should be an easy class, right?
Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.” Prov 4:8 (NIV)
I didn’t realize how huge the window in the Bible really was until that class. The professor wasn’t a believer. He taught it merely from the words he “read”. He didn’t understand Jewish tradition (I didn’t either at that point). He didn’t like discussion that disagreed with his viewpoint. (This is when I learned that sarcasm used by a teacher is not effective – at all) But the Bible he chose to use for the class was wonderful. The particular one I used for this class (with all its notes and highlighting) is long gone; burned in our house fire in 2009. But the window I opened during that class carried such a sweet breeze that the book still exists in my mind. The fine, tiny print in black and red. The sound of the translucent, fragile paper as I turned pages. The corresponding stories listed side-by-side for easy comparison. My black ink pen bleeding through to the other side of the page. Even so – the window was thrown wide, and I began wondering in earnest.
“She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.” Prov 4:9 (NIV)
Classic literature makes us wonder, contemplate, hypothesize and dig deep into our inner core. It challenges our long held beliefs with new ideas and concepts. Whether we adapt those ideas and concepts as “truths” is our choice – our free will. It encourages…discourages; lifts up…tears down; opens…closes windows; in other words, it offers new knowledge and the optional advancement of wisdom.
I still love to wonder and can’t wait to wonder even more when I get to the next phase of my soul’s journey. God created us in His image (Gen 1), so it has to be part of His character. It makes me wonder what kind of debates go on in heaven. Is wonder what led to Luciel (Lucius, the Fallen One) choosing to follow his own truths instead of God’s truths? Is there a point where wonder becomes destructive in heaven as it has done here on earth? I wonder as I wonder as I wonder.