Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018 Intention: A Year of Wonder and Celebration

In 2009, I was introduced to an Irish philosopher whose words and thoughts shook my foundation. I fell in love immediately and wanted to go spend time listening to and learning from him, only to be devastated when I learned that John O’Donohue had died only a year earlier. However, he left behind him incredible words in books like Anam Cara (soul friend) and Beauty: the Invisible Embrace which continue to inspire and enlighten us.

One of my favorite thoughts from this incredible teacher is:
" ... the human heart is never completely born.  It is being birthed in every experience of your life.  Everything that happens to you has the potential to deepen you."
-- John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, p 26
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Now, as I contemplate 2018, I’ve been introduced to another spiritual philosopher whom I can only meet through his words. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, author of Man Is Not Alone, God in Search of Man, The Sabbath, and The Prophets, died in 1972, but left behind a huge legacy of thought and inspiration. 

My introduction to him came in a Facebook post from a friend which included the thought of “radical amazement.” Herschel said:

"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. 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.”

Rabbi Heschel and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
 That thought shook me and I went off to Googleland to find out more about this man and his thoughts and found that he was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century. He was also an active participant in the Civil Rights movement. Here are a few more of his thoughts:
“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.”

“The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living.”

“People of our time are losing the power of celebration. Instead of celebrating we seek to be amused or entertained. Celebration is an active state, an act of expressing reverence or appreciation. To be entertained is a passive state. Celebration is a confrontation, giving attention to the transcendent meaning of one's actions.”

“The primary purpose of prayer is not to make requests. The primary purpose is to praise, to sing, to chant. Because the essence of prayer is a song, and man cannot live without a song."
Normally, I only choose one word for the year to come, however, as I move deeper into this final stage of life, I feel completely free to choose two and have chosen wonder and celebration. My goal for 2018 will be to walk in wonder and sing a song of celebration for all the great gifts I’ve been given and for everything that comes my way. 

And, one final thought from Rabbi Heschel:
"The meaning of life is to live life as if it were a work of art.”
 The photo of the child at the beginning of this post was taken during a sunny afternoon musical festival in the park in Nevada City, CA. Her expression haunted me and finally, with the help of a rainy morning oil slick rainbow, turned into this piece of art: Child of Wonder.
Child of Wonder


  1. Love this. I have had words for the year as well. 2017 was change. I feel like courage is my word for 2018. But I love wonder.

  2. I have lived with the word 'wonder' ever since I gave up my conventional life and started traveling. You have only to open your eyes and heart to the wonder you find around you when you step outside your comfort zone and go off to experience the world.

  3. Happy New Year, Joyce.

    What I like about “wonder” is its duality - noun and verb.