Transformed: Embracing Moments of Wonder

How wonder has affected me and how to experience that more.

Published in Illumination on Medium

Surprised by Wonder

I remember my first moment of wonder. I was about 4 years old at my grandmother’s house.

In her sitting room (yes, that was a thing) my Nana had curtains with a red poinsettia pattern. The sun suddenly came out, striking that fabric, transforming it to a glowing intensity of color that reached out and grabbed my heart. Time was suspended. I was completely oblivious to anything else but that brilliant color. Wonder.

Wonder frequently takes us by surprise. The deer vaults across the trail and then, just as suddenly, completely dissolves into the forest leaving us wonder-struck.

Then there was the day a flock of red dragonflies accompanied me, flying all about me, even sitting on my jacket, while I walked to the institute where my father was dying. That never happened before, or since.

I still feel a surge of wonder when I think of that.

Stack Your Odds of Encountering Wonder

You likely remember the moments when wonder surprised you.

Often it’s in nature. Putting yourself into places where nature surrounds you can be a catalyst.

Another place that Wonder frequents is creativity. Creativity in almost any form, whether you are the one creating, or enjoying someone else’s creations, creativity can also be a space that invites wonder.

Music is a great example. We have all been moved to wonder by a special song and that joy can return to us as our mind plays it again. (No, not that annoying song. The good ones.)

Yet wonder is not limited to any one place or type of experience.

I have known moments of wonder when a friend expressed their understanding about something difficult I was going through. There is a sudden lifting of the heart when it becomes apparent that they do get it. The wonder of special connections is real too.

Streamside – watercolour by Cheryl O Art

Effects of Wonder

Here’s something magical about those moments of wonder. They stop the noise. Without warning, the frantic racing of modern life is brought to an abrupt halt. Can you hear the focused stillness? Sometimes you hold your breath to try not to break the spell. Sometimes you gasp.

Whether you are consciously aware or not, these moments carry conviction — there is more to life than work. There is more to life than the things that hound and worry you. There are moments of wonder.

Stopping the constant noise of our world can be a revolutionary life-altering act. Instead of the mind racing toward the next item on the to-do list (AKA ‘do-do’ list), worrying about that thing you said or didn’t say — unexpectedly, you are here. Right here. Holding your breath or breathing in deeper with wonder.


I hear you saying, “Oh, mindfulness. You are talking about mindfulness.” Yes, but I’ve struggled with that term. My problem with the word mindfulness is, that it’s everywhere (overuse?) and I never really got it.

Meditation was encouraged and that was supposed to start with breathing. I mean, thinking about your breathing. Concentrating on my breathing just reminded me that my lungs were damaged long ago from too many bouts of pneumonia. Concentrate on my breathing, and all I can think is, “My lungs are crap.”

Alternatively, wonder has given me a door into understanding that life-affirming act called mindfulness.

Planet’s Pulse – acrylic by Cheryl O Art


Wonder often brings stillness. Stillness can sometimes invite wonder too. There is a strong link between these two. Like good buddies, stillness and wonder walk intimately close together.

Perhaps that’s why we love the water’s edge so much. No cars. No one expects you to be ‘productive’ there. Instead, the relentless repetitive sound of the waves insists that you listen. Listen to the pulse of our earth. Listen to the water in motion instead of the tumult in your mind.

Those pretty pebbles you pick up as you stroll a beach? Perhaps you are picking up small pieces of wonder. Small pieces of stillness to take home with you.

The Cumulative Effect

All types of wonder can be savored afterward. This encourages an ongoing effect; creating a space for refreshing and peace. I want to be transformed from a racing distracted human to one carrying peace.

It’s an ongoing journey. Here is how I make an effort to apply this practically.

When I finally sit down at the end of a too-busy day, I bring those moments of wonder to mind, even from previous days or years. Turn them over like lovely pebbles and gaze at them again. These are treasures that no one can steal. I become absorbed again into that stillness.

It’s a heavy world. We need times of relief from that weight. When the recent solar eclipse had everyone gazing upward in wonder, I momentarily felt the weight of life grow lighter. What a grand thing, to share a moment of wonder with so many! That feeling gladdens me when I think of it still.

Going Deeper

Saying ‘thank you’ in those moments of wonder can enrich and deepen the experience. I thank the Creator, but whatever your faith or not I gently suggest a “thank you”. If you are still, quiet, and listening closely, you never know when you might hear “You are welcome, Beloved” in response.

And that curtain with the poinsettia pattern? By one of those quirks of fate, many decades later a piece of it came to be mine when Mom found out I was making art with fabric collage. My Mom didn’t know how special it was to me — but I remembered because — wonder.

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Cheryl O Art writes on Medium