04-01-2005, 02:54 AM #1
The Romance Of Enchantment: a short essay
We have been discussing the search for meaning, so one can't help but quote William Shakespeare. Said he,
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts
So go the lines of As You Like It, in which Shakespeare presents seven stages of life's script. At each stage meaning is pursued, attained, and sometimes lost. Think with me today about one stage, the passage of childhood.
G. K. Chesterton proclaimed unabashedly that he learned more about life by observing children than he ever did by reflecting upon the writings of philosophers. If you think about it, there is something so enthralling in watching a young life engaging a world new to her. But what is it about a child that fascinates us? Or more to the point, what is it that fascinates a child? The answer to both questions is the same: Is it not that sense of wonder that pervades much of what the child sees and touches?
A young child has the capacity for rapture with the simpleóbeing absorbed by things the adult mind often considers commonplace. Imagine a world without such fascination. Is it any wonder why we call undiluted excitement "child-like"?
It would be very easy to say, "Ah! But you are not going to take a child's view for such a serious subject. Is this not far too naÔve a way to satisfy a search for meaning?" It is true, exhilaration alone is not sufficient to find lasting fulfillment. Yet undeniably, wonder plays a role in satisfying our hunger for meaning. What I am arguing is that for a child, meaning is gained by her recognition of the awe-inspiring reality that surrounds her life.
H. L. Mencken said, "The problem with life is not that it's a tragedy, but that it's a bore." But a child who is filled with wonder is also filled with a sense of enchantment, a sense of significance, of meaning. When wonder ceases, boredom and emptiness set in.
May I suggest to you that, in this instance, the child has it right? Consider the possibility that God has really made this world beautiful and awe-inspiring. The importance of wonderment is something I will sustain tomorrow. But I leave you with this first component of meaning: Wonder, an essential facet of our search for meaning.
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