The idea of wandering can be frightening and uncomfortable. We like to avoid things we cannot explain. Still, we find ourselves searching for something more as we move about this blue rock that is our home. We search for happiness, we search for direction, we search for meaning. And there is beauty in this searching. And there is fear in this searching. There is light, and there is darkness. Rather than focusing all of our energy on the light or the darkness alone, perhaps we can step back for a moment and look at this light and this darkness that is present within this wandering as a spectrum: One end- darkness, a wasteland and the other-light, a wonderland.
The name wonderland is often synonymous with amusement or pleasure, but this kind of wonderland isn’t bound by its traditional connotations. Wonderland in this sense is a state of mind manifested as a land where we wander, searching for direction and meaning. In this wandering there is uncertainty and even fear, but there is also incredible wonder and an adoration for the beauty that surrounds us. Ultimately, wonderland is a place you want to be.
Somewhere between this wasteland and this wonderland we find our daily lives, caught in a blend of light and dark, love and spite, triumph and tragedy. Everyday we experience a contrasting nature, a dissonance within ourselves. Whether we recognize this dissonance, it is there nonetheless, and there is a harmonious nature to this dissonance if we choose to embrace it. In the commotion of everyday life, however, it becomes easy to lose touch of this struggle as we pass through one mundane week to the next. Each day blurs into the next day until we don’t feel anything at all. Stale and bitter, we argue with each other to convince ourselves that we are important, that we have the answers.
And then the mundane is interrupted by tragedy or a question or uncertainty or a situation and the world becomes even darker than we remembered it. We question if there is a God governing this cold and random universe. If we decide there is one we shout at him to fix everything, but it doesn’t seem he is listening. Suddenly we find ourselves in a very dark and desolate place, longing for peace. Longing for answers.
It is often my experience that in these dark places I seek God more than ever. It is within my doubt and my uncertainty and darkness that light may shine through. After the waves of questions and anger, there is a holy silence. A listening. And though there are many questions left unanswered, it is in this silence that I am able to set my heart on something beyond myself.
There comes a time when each of us is lost in the darkness, in the wasteland, wandering for years or even just a moment, feeling alone and abandoned. However, this wasteland is not the constant. Even in the darkest of places, there is a hope that burns brighter than light from the Sun. Deep within the trenches of our fears and failures we may catch glimpses of this hope, this peace. It is a lifeline when we need it the most- when we are vulnerable and broken and longing for direction. Like an oasis in a desert. A kind of liberation. Then there may be a moment where everything stops as you recognize the fragile and temporary nature of life. There may be a revelation of how interconnected everything really is in ways that are beyond our understanding. There is a mysterious and subtle beauty that often goes unnoticed each day, but when we catch glimpses of it, we are awestruck and filled with wonder. That is wonderland.
So whether you find yourself caught in an endless cycle of mundane or whether you find yourself in a place you don’t understand or want to be in, whether you are afraid of the uncertainty that surrounds you or blissfully assume you will find what you’re looking for, take a deep breath. Embrace the beauty of this wandering. Recognize the complex nature of this spectrum in which we all find ourselves swirling about like wavelengths of light, neither completely dark and cold nor bright and vibrant by ourselves, but rather intricate beings molded in this cosmos searching for direction amidst the dark and light with the ability to both shine our light or stifle it.
Have you been to wonderland?