Michael Karlesky

A cabinet of wonders. Minus the cabinet. And possibly the wonders.

On Wonder

I grew up a certifiable know-it-all. I suspect it was not long after I uttered “mama” and “dada” that I discovered the phrase “I know.” I still recall moments of instruction and questioning where the first thing out of my mouth in response was “I know.” I did not know. I had no business saying I did. I once went so far as to declare before a room of people that I intended to know everything. I was serious. And I was fully confident in my ability to do so. I was also, of course, utterly wrong in each of the various meanings of the word wrong.

I suspect that while I developed certain social graces as a young adult in college and would never say as much, I believed myself to be very active in my quest to know everything. It was in these years that I finally started to feel the internal strain of such a compulsion. There were things I did not know. There were things that nobody could know. Perhaps worst of all there were things I was incapable of comprehending for which others had no such difficulty.

It was not long after college that I was granted redemption for all my vain struggling. I can say that it was, in fact, a spiritual experience. All in a moment of clarity bestowed upon me and not formulated by my own faculties, I came to know the transformative beauty of wonder. In this one moment, the arc of my existence was bent in a new direction. I came to see mystery not as a problem to be solved but as a gift to be enjoyed. Now I am not so foolish as to suggest we should forgo knowledge and understanding. Rather, I am saying that where knowledge and understanding are lacking, there is opportunity for wonder to abound in its splendor. I tend to think that God inhabits wonder.