She had me at pixie dust.
All around the internet, I kept seeing references to Margaret Feinberg and her book, Wonderstruck. The book sounded like something I’d enjoy reading, but I also thought perhaps its themes were ones I’d already encountered: Open your eyes. Look around. Be attentive. Be wonderstruck by evidence of God’s presence all around you.
I had learned from Ann Voskamp of the beauty and benefit of practicing gratitude, so I wasn’t sure what else I might glean from Feinberg’s words. And I’m not even sure what motivated me finally to purchase Wonderstruck, but I am so glad I did. Reading these words nearly undid me:
Several years earlier I had been in a place in my spiritual journey where God seemed nonexistent. I was still carving out time to connect with God each day. Reading. Scripture. Praying. Solitude. Though I emptied my bag of spiritual discipline tricks, nothing seemed to change. I arrived at church empty and left unsatisfied. I read from Psalms. Proverbs. Obadiah. The Gospels. Even Leviticus. Nothing connected. Worship was meh. Conversations felt flat.
“Where do I go, God? What do I do?” All I heard was crushing silence, the kind that’s empty and full, quiet and deafening all at the same time.
And, oh, how familiar that place sounded.
Feinberg then went on to describe a spiritual pilgrimage she had led in the Scottish Highlands. After fellow participants had shared their hopes and prayers for the upcoming trip, Feinberg told the group she was praying for pixie dust.
And I was smitten. Because I knew exactly what she meant. Feinberg continued:
More than anything, what I long for is our God, the One who bedazzled the heavens and razzle-dazzled the earth, to meet us in such a way during our time in Scotland that we find ourselves awestruck by his goodness and generosity, his provision and presence. I’m praying for pixie dust. I want to leave here with a sense of wonderment as we encounter and experience things only God can do.
Now I am a writer, a word girl. And I adhere to the reformed tenet of sola scriptura—Scripture alone as the only authoritative rule for life and faith. And yet I understand this longing to be bedazzled by my heavenly Father, to be wonderstruck by the magnificence of his creation.
Because I believe God reveals himself both through his word and the heavens which declare his glory. It’s not either/or; it’s both/and. And before any of my good reformed friends start sounding alarm bells about me wandering too far off the doctrinal reservation and into some sort of pagan tree-hugging worship, let me toss in a few words from John Calvin’s commentary on the book of Genesis:
We see, indeed, the world with our eyes, we tread the earth with our feet, we touch innumerable kinds of God’s works with our hands, we inhale a sweet and pleasant fragrance from herbs and flowers, we enjoy boundless benefits; but in those very things of which we attain some knowledge, there dwells such an immensity of divine power, goodness, and wisdom, as absorbs all our senses. Therefore, let men be satisfied if they obtain only a moderate taste of them, suited to their capacity. And it becomes us so to press towards this mark during our whole life, that (even in extreme old age) we shall not repent of the progress we have made, if only we have advanced ever so little in our course.
In reading Feinberg’s account of her pilgrimage in the Scottish Highlands, I was reminded of so much that was life-giving and good about my experience in the Alps last summer. And I remembered a conversation I had there with one of my fellow pilgrims, an astronaut.
(Yes, I did hike in the Alps with an astronaut–which is a pretty cool sentence to be able to type)
I, of course, asked my fellow traveler about his experience in the space program, because I am nosy like that. Specifically, I was curious about the spiritual lives of those who had traveled with him to space. I wondered if they interpreted their view from the space shuttle window merely as scientists or as those who saw the manifestation of God’s handiwork.
He said he assumed the percentage of people of faith within the space community probably mirrored that within the general population.
“But,” I responded, “They’ve been to SPACE! How could they not see evidence of God all around them when they were in SPACE?”
“Everyone on earth has seen a newborn baby,” he replied.
And he is so right. Evidence of God’s handiwork, his power, his glory, his goodness is everywhere around me if only I have eyes to see. The works of God’s hands do not contradict his written word; they serve it by breathing color onto the black-and-white of the printed page. The wonders of God’s creation sparkle, bedazzle, snap, crackle, and pop in a riotous, ridiculously abundant array as to absorb all my senses.
I might even be tempted to ponder the possibility they are sprinkled with pixie dust.
Feinberg, Margaret (2012-12-25). Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God (pp. 13, 16). Ingram Distribution. Kindle Edition.
John Calvin’s Bible Commentary: http://www.ewordtoday.com/comments/genesis/calvin/genesisintro.htm