I swam in the sea with two dolphins this week.
A popular attraction in Eilat, the Dolphin Reef allows these highly intelligent animals to swim freely in the open sea, yet they always return to their “home” where they are fed and enjoy interacting with the trainers and tourists. One of our favorite spots in the area is the adjacent beach which the dolphins often frequent, hoping they’ll grace us with a watery visit. And though I’ve swum with dolphins uncountable times, I never lose my sense of awe as one of these large, stream-lined creatures suddenly passes next to me.
Stepping out into nature, being in the presence of a wild creature, hanging out with children, or even seeing a beautiful sunset, are events that can make us pause and say, “Wow.” But could it be that in our fast-paced world, we don’t experience this emotion as often as we might? I’ve begun thinking and reading about wonder and asking myself whether there’s anything we can do to foster this positive emotion. As Albert Einstein said, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”
From my research, I learned that experiencing wonder actually benefits our health and overall contentment, while at the same time reduces our sense of self and enhances our feeling of community. Shouldn’t we be then on the watch for wonder around us?
We might think that we’ll only find awe in dolphins, babies, or life-changing events, but Dacher Kelner, an expert in this subject, wrote in Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life, “The truth is, that awe can be part of everyday life.”
Interestingly, in the Bible in Isaiah 9:6, we read “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” In context, we understand this is a prophecy about the Messiah, and in Hebrew the word for wonder isפלא , pele. Thus we see that one of Jesus’s names is Wonder, and I believe that His person should inspire the greatest awe in each of us.
Most of us seek to be healthier in body and in soul, so I suggest that as Stewart Udall, an American Secretary of the Interior said, “Have a love affair with the wonder and beauty of the earth.” I’ve decided that in this new year, I’ll be looking for wonder around me. What about you?
By the way, in the book produced by my publisher, The Animals in Our Lives: Stories of Companionship and Awe, I have a story I wrote about swimming with dolphins. Check it out: https://www.amazon.com/Animals-Our-Lives-Stories-Companionship-ebook/dp/B09BSRPRZY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=225051IJ2GCTP&keywords=animals+in+our+lives+lawton&qid=1673074303&sprefix=animals+in+our+lives+lawton%2Caps%2C215&sr=8-1