Every year I try and read the same book, though I have slipped up since having children. I’m currently on my third copy because I’ve lent it out so many times that the previous copies have either fallen apart or been stolen (God knows who you are!).
Every time I’ve read it I’ve had a pencil in hand and things have jumped out at me, and every time I read I find myself guilty of not letting the impact I experience whilst reading to sink in for longer afterwards. Personally I blame my memory, but in reality I’m just boring.
The book is called “Dangerous Wonder” by Michael Yaconelli, and from the very first time I read it, it spoke to me.
Subtitled “The Adventure of Childlike Faith”, the blurb reads as follows:
Jump First. Fear Later.
Remember the thrill of thinking you could fly? The adventure of going places in your imagination? The joy and abandon of running and jumping and playing hard – without worrying about what “might” happen?
I can remember as a kid going to my friend’s house on a Sunday afternoon after church. Depending on the time of year, we would find various ways of spending the afternoon before we’d have to go back to church for the evening service. Many is the time that we would be playing football in his back garden and the ball, due to my lack of accuracy generally (he was always better than me… still is), would end up on top of his garage. Often there would be other balls we could find to replace the lost one, but eventually someone would have to go up onto the roof to get the balls that we’d lost. Once all the balls had been recovered, there was only one way down…
Or there was the tree in my Grandad’s back garden that I would climb and spend time in, only to realise every time that getting up was the easy bit, stretching for the branches on the way down was more difficult…
Or the challenges on multiple stair cases as to how many stairs you could jump down…
Or the vertical “death” slide that you had no problems with as a kid…
Now I wouldn’t call myself a chicken (I’m not a fan of bananas, needles or spiders) but the thought of jumping off a garage, or out of a tree, or down more than three steps, or dropping down those friction burn nightmares now puts me off. But back then I jumped (sometimes it took a little bit of peer coercion, but I did it!).
I see it all the time in little kids around me: they believe in themselves, they trust the adults around them, there is no fear of what “might” happen, only the thrill of the now and the experience. Whether it’s the 7 year old squaring up to me as if she could beat me up, or the 5 year old throwing himself down the steps to see how many he can clear this time, or the 2 year old wanting to be thrown higher before you “drop” him to the ground… It’s about the experience. It’s about believing.
Every now and then my wife does something mean. She tells me that Superman isn’t real, or if she’s being particularly vindictive, that Batman doesn’t exist. Trustworthy as she usually is, I just can’t bring myself to believe her. Batman has to be real. I have to believe that there is someone out there willing to fight for truth and for justice. Someone who has trained themselves mind and body to be the best that there is, who is able to defeat evil with force where necessary and brains where that’s not an option. I have to believe that there is a small ray of hope that shines out in the darkness, that strength can come from adversity, and that one day the Batmobile will go on general sale at an affordable price.
I want to believe all of that, and every time I open a graphic novel to read about my favourite superheroes I find myself in a place of wonder, where wonder is where we stop trying to understand something and instead start letting ourselves experience it fully.
But how come I find it easier to do that with Bruce Wayne than I do with Jesus? Why is my imagination less interested in what God can do in and through me than how Batman’s going to get Robin out of the latest sticky situation?
Why in my relationship with Jesus does there appear to be a dearth of “dancing, singing, laughter and playing”? Probably because I’m too busy trying to understand and theologise to experience the relationship and the reality.
Why could my spiritual journey often be described as “dull and bleary-eyed, listless and passionless”? Because I’ve stopped hearing the “whisper”, the “voice of wonder and amazement”, the “voice of God” in my life, and instead my life has become louder, when I try to squeeze God in there is a “roaring silence”, because I’ve lost the aliveness that came with hearing that voice and believing in the speaker.
This book isn’t a deep theology book to be studied and taken as Gospel. It’s probably more like a reminder to become who we used to be:
This is a book about the attributes of children that make childhood an adventure. When adults rediscover those attribute, when we reclaim our childlikeness, we stumble upon the presence of God – and we are amazed to find the place all children know about: The place where once again we can hear the whisper of Jesus. Jesus always recognised children because they always recognised him. When we find the place of dangerous wonder, our souls come to life and we sense that we are on the brink of a great and mysterious way of life.
As I keep reading I’ll keep blogging, and maybe start imagining again… That voice is there for us to hear!
As always there’s a place you can buy the book (from 1p plus £2.80 delivery…)
I really do recommend it.
No, I will not lend you my copy.
Remarcable is one man blogging about Youth Work, Theology, Family, Life and those other random things that come to mind.