Wonder is my second favorite condition to be in, after love--and I sometimes wonder whether there's even a difference: maybe love is just wonder aimed at a beloved. Wonder is like grace, in that it's not a condition we grasp: wonder grasps us. We do have the freedom to elude wonder's grasp. We have the freedom to do all sorts of stupid things. By deploying cynicism, rationalism, fear, arrogance, judgmentalism, we can evade wonder nonstop, all our lives. I’m not too fond of that gnarly old work, sin, but the deliberate evasion of wonder does bring it to mind. It may not be biblically sinful to evade wonder. But is artistically and spiritually sinful.
Unless wonder descends, unlocks us, truth is unable to enter. Wonder may be the aura of truth, the halo of it. Or something even closer. Wonder may be the caress of truth, touching our very skin.
Philosophically speaking, wonder is crucial to the discovery of knowledge, yet has everything to do with ignorance. By this I mean that only an admission of our ignorance can open us to fresh knowings. Wonder is the experience of that admission: wonder is unknowing, experienced as pleasure.
Punctuality speaking, wonder is a period at the end of a statement we’ve long taken for granted, suddenly looking up and seeing the sinuous curve of a tall black hat on its head, and realizing if was a question mark all along.
-David James Duncan
David James Duncan’s writing (see right column) is so profoundly beautiful to me, that any attempt to follow with my own rambling prose is slightly reminiscent of my desperate effort to keep up with my dear friend Emily when she took me skiing in high school. As she floated down the black diamonds with effortless grace and a touch of ferocity inbred in Colorado women, my novice legs were uncertain at best as I raced down the moguls after her - speeding without skill and genuinely fearing for anyone in my path. It wasn’t pretty, but I made it down the mountain nonetheless, utterly happy and full of wonder at the magnificence of my home state and best friend.
While my observations likely pale in comparison to the literary genius of Duncan, I believe my love of wonder to be equal. Every day, there are moments that pull me deeper into awareness, deeper into being, moments where I feel ‘the caress of truth against my skin’. Though these moments are admittedly fewer than as a child - when wonder was as natural as breath & life imbued with an innate sense of immediacy - there are still opportunities each day, amid the barrage of technology & tasks, to pause in awe at the mystery of it all. The call from a long lost friend who just crossed the vast expanse of your mind the day before; the stars above us, too often neglected, yet echoed so closely in the very cells burning within us; the period at the end of a statement we’ve long taken for granted & the sudden realization it was a question mark all along.
Just so you know a little about the man you're painting...His name was Gerry, he was a plumber by trade and top notch surfer by play. When he found Westcliffe he said he finally found home and the surfer turned cowboy. This is Phyllis' favorite picture of him because of the eyes. She said they seem to follow her around the room. His favorite singer was Willie Nelson so if you want his spirit to flow just put on Willie...