“Oh, Wow!”

Our grandson, Henry, has found his first words.  (Actually, he is working on others now as well.)  But the first ones were, “Oh, Wow!”  And they are almost always accompanied by a little hand pointing at something — the picture of sheer delight and wonder.  The experience of watching him respond to the world around him has reminded me of some important truths:

All too often the journey into adulthood is one of accumulating cynicism.  The “Oh, Wow!” moments of delight and wonder give way to “Oh, Sure” moments of weary and wary distrust.  But the loss of delight and wonder is not a measure of sophistication.

A capacity for wonder is directly related to our ability to remain open, pliable, imaginative, and teachable.  An “Oh, Wow” moment can lead to discovery and growth.  An “Oh, sure” mindset knows everything it needs to know, forecloses on fresh insights, and judges the world from a single, suspicious point of view.

“Oh, Wow” moments also open us to the endless wonders that are an experience of God and God’s creation.  We live on the endless frontier that is the experience of One greater than us, where there is always something new to learn and experience.  Wonder is at the heart of that experience, the engine of worship.  Cynicism reduces the world to a place of dry mechanics.

Henry’s first words have also reminded me of this: Not all wisdom comes with the passage of time.  It is not the exclusive (or inevitable) gift of aging.  And there are times when the wisest thing we can do is to embrace the lessons a child has to teach us.

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.


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