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Wonder! Why? – My Elul Exercise 5776

If you stop reading this because you are not a baseball fan, you might miss something special.

All-star pitcher tragically killed in a boating accident.

That same pitcher is not just loved as a baseball player, but as a Cuban refugee who risked life and limb to come to America.

This same pitcher was beloved by his teammates and his community for his joyful approach to all.

After canceling the game the day after he died, his teammates suited up the next day to begin the tumultuous task of playing a game in the shadow of such a loss.  

They all dressed in their uniforms, but with his name and his number on the backs of their jerseys.

His friend and teammate – who had not hit a home run all season – led off the game for his team.  He started the at-bat by imitating his dead friend’s batting stance.  He completed the at bat by hitting his first home run of the season … weeping as he rounded the bases.

Even if you are not a baseball fan, it was quite a moment.

Sometimes it seems that there are moments that come together in magical, mysterious and quite meaningful ways.  Chance?  Synchronicity?  Serendipity? Proof of … Something?

Who knows!?  Sometimes, the moments don’t need to be dissected or debunked.  Sometimes, the moment we start thinking, categorizing or explaining the moment — is the moment — we lose the moment.  Sometimes, we need to shut that part of ourselves off and let ourselves wonder.

As adults our ‘wonder’ muscles are often underused, atrophied and even forgotten.  The experience of wonder can be an important soul ‘fertilizer’.  This soul fertilizer expands and broadens our capacity to consider and reach.  This soul fertilizer extends our awareness of the universe to what may be beyond the limits of what we think we see, hear, feel and know.  

The upcoming days of Teshuvah provide us an opportunity to revitalize these wonder muscles.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel put it this way:  “As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Humankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.

 

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