I can't believe how close I am to graduating from high school. One week from today I'll be finished. I'll be moving on to a new stage of my education. After four years, it's kind of hard to believe.
When I got up one fall day and found that I was a freshman, I didn't know what to expect. And I must confess, I was more than a little scared. I knew that high school was going to be a bit more rigorous than my education had previously been. I was going to delve deeper into science, into history, into theology, into philosophy. I was a little nervous about the challenges that would be presented, but I was scared stiff of losing the wonder.
I guess as Chesterton fans, we all have this passion for wonder. Like Chesterton, we see that the world is suffering not from 'lack of wonders, but from lack of wonder.' And I was afraid that digging into these subjects, turning them over, and analyzing them would make me lose my sense of wonder.
I've gone from being a timid little freshman to a smug senior, and I see how wrong I was. My education took away none of the excitement, none of the enthusiasm, none of the wonder. It increased it.
Just as Innocent Smith in Manalive courts and marries his wife again and again so he can rediscover his joy in her, his love for her; just as he robs his house so he can rediscover that his possessions are his; and just as he travels around the world to rediscover the immense beauty of going home again... I too rediscovered.
I was afraid that a study of science and natural history would take away the mystery and wonder of walking through the woods in a foggy evening, of seeing the soft raindrops hanging crystal-like from the tips of the tree branches, of hearing the soft and faintly ominous winds stir far above me, and glide down to shake the soft spring flowers from their trees.
I was wrong. My studies forced me to rediscover that beauty. It made it impossible for the beauty to ever become stale, because I was looking at it all with new eyes. Science didn't reduce the woods to a lot of technicalities, but turned it into something more wonderful than I had previously thought. There was something new in my mind, and it made me view the woods in a new and astonishing way.
And theology did not take away the simple awe and love of God. Reading through Aquinas did not diminish Him, did not turn Him into a complicated thing that requires precise definitions and is to be viewed from a slightly befuddled distance. Rather, realizing how necessary precise definitions are when talking about Him made me realize how truly awesome He is.
I rediscovered God during those four years, as well. If anything, my wonder has increased.
And the real joy is that there is so much more. College is somewhere in the near future, and though perhaps I'll be a bit of a timid freshman, adjusting to a new environment and place, not sure if I'm up to the challenge of such rigorous study... I know I won't be afraid of learning. Rather, I'm anxious for it.
I want to rediscover everything again and again, the way Innocent Smith did. And the more I rediscover everything, the more I rediscover God.
"Behold," He says, "I make all things new."