During the three decades that I have crisscrossed this globe and seen much of the world, I have frequently been asked what my favorite city is or what food I enjoy the most. The latter is easier to answer than the former because, while cities have attractions for different reasons, the palate is conditioned by one's land of birth.
Strangely, I have never been asked for my favorite sight. Now, that is a tough one. I am not sure I could pick a single spectacle, but I know one experience that would be in the running as the most emotionally moving moment for me. One brilliantly sunny day, I was driven from Cape Town to very near land's end in South Africa-Cape Point. As my colleague and I stood there, staring into the wild blue yonder, the sight was utterly breathtaking. Yes, I have seen the Taj Mahal and many of the other so-called wonders of the world. But this was sheer enchantment! Whether is was because we were not expecting such a banquet for the eyes, or whether it was just some preconditioning from a busy day, I would not even venture to analyze. All I know is that the scene affected both of us in the same way.
We stood at the edge of the land and watched as the waters of the calm Atlantic and the restless Indian Oceans collided into one massive torrent of fluid strength, the power of the current almost visible to the naked eye. That body of water has been the graveyard of many a mariner trying to navigate his way around the globe. The endless horizon, the borderless blue and turquoise of the mighty waters, and the frothy white tips of the crashing waves as they collided against each other - this scene from the world's end seemed to overwhelm us with a stupendous sense of awe. For seemingly unexplainable reasons, my eyes filled with tears. I was in the throes of enjoying the wonder and the vastness of creation. I felt at once both dwarfed and elevated, dwarfed because my entire stature as a human being seemed so diminished compared to the display of beauty and power before me but elevated because I could revel in this glorious sight while the land and water combined could not exult in its own beauty or share in my delight. Enchantment needs a mind, and the emotions are given as a wellspring.
But then a strange, unexpected sensation took hold of us and we both did something that neither of us had ever done before. We walked back a few steps, found a sharp stone, and scratched the names of our wives onto the surface of a massive piece of rock, realizing that in a matter of days the writing would be erased. But the thought and act spoke volumes. We had been in the throes of wonder and moment seemed incomplete without being able to enjoy it with the ones dearest to us.
That awe-filled experience is more than just an illustration to me. It summarizes for me what life is intended to be - the thrill of wonder and irresistible urge to share it.
That is what this book is about. Each of us has known a moment in which everything in life that is beautiful and overwhelming was suddenly crystallized into a bite-sized moment. Every sense was involved, almost like a convergence of all that is true and good and beautiful, so that we wished we could have frozen the moment and made it last forever. But God, in His infinite wisdom, has shown us that life was never meant to be that way, no more than salt is intended to be eaten by itself, or for that matter, than any seasoning is meant to be enjoyed apart from the food it is enhancing.
How, then, does one retain a sense of wonder without being permanently entranced? How does one live in such a way that the mundane blends with the dramatic so that the whole story remains sensational? How does one take the emotional high points and successfully balance them with the sharp edges of sorrow that are also part of life? How do we live so that we avoid becoming, at the end of life, the proverbial cynic or the "grumpy old person"? Why must that be? Like the wedding at Cana of Galilee, can the best not be saved for the last? It can. It will take the touch of the Master and that is the miracle only He can perform; however, we must fill these jars of clay according to His instructions if the conditions are to be met for celebrating life right to the end.
May these pages help us capture that truth and recapture the wonder. That is the way the Shepherd of our souls intended us to live.
I sincerely hope this book will lead us to the knowledge that befits the title - Recapture the Wonder. It could just as easily have been called Recaptured by Wonder because, in a sense, it is not as much about something we may possess as it is about what possesses us. Join me on this journey of thought as we savor the delicacies God has prepared for the imagination and the mind, delicacies that time will only enrich.