Paths and Choices:  Rachel Carson’s “Sense of Wonder” 3.2.4

The natural world is also alive!  Love of life and getting out of the self involves more than connecting to other humans, whether family, friends, neighbors, or strangers.  Rachel Carson argues that showing young children the sense of wonder by example is more important than teaching them facts.  She says that a sense of wonder needs to be “so indestructible that it [lasts] throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial, the alienation from the sources of our strength.”

Her belief is that an adult companion of a child should share “the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in” even though he or she may not have all the facts:  “If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow.  The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil.  Once the emotions have been aroused – a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love – then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response.”

Carson says the sense of wonder comes from being receptive and aware of the sense of awe into adulthood:  “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.  Whatever the vexations or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living.  Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”

Phyllis Ballata

Without Words We Cannot Think

“Something of God flows into us from the blue of the sky, the taste of honey, the delicious embrace of water whether cold or hot, and even from sleep itself.”  C.S. Lewis (1898-1963); “Scraps” in St. James Magazine


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