The Gift of Wonder
of God's eternal love,
And dance to the rhythm of eternal breath,
Listening to the whispers
calling me to slow down and take notice.
I choose to absorb the beauty
of the divine presence,
to delight in the Creator of all things
and relish the delight God takes in me.
Can you imagine a God who dances with shouts of joy, laughs when you laugh, loves to play, enjoys life, and invites us to join the fun?
Like many of us, Christine Sine had spent many years with an image of God who was "a very serious, workaholic type of God." And even when her theology told her this was not true, she struggled to live into this new way of thinking. What she needed was a childlike spirituality.
In this book, Christine Sine, online host of the Godspace community, invites us to pay attention to childlike characteristics that have the power to reshape us. Each chapter addresses a childlike characteristic to embrace, including delight, playfulness, imagination, awe and wonder, love of nature, the ability to live in the present, and much more. Fresh spiritual practices that engage all our senses help us live a new spiritual life that embraces the wonder and joy that God intends for us.
"Christine Aroney-Sine's new book is as delightful as its subject. Full of invitations to pleasure, rejoicing, and play, it celebrates a truly incarnational spirituality that reflects God's exuberant yes to all of creation."
"Spiritual practice is designed to awaken us to God's presence, but it need not be boring. Aroney-Sine has produced a brave work here, inviting spiritual seekers to become like children—playful, curious, and trusting. With Aroney-Sine's guidance and support you will discover the God who delights in you and unlock a wellspring of joy."
"Once after baptizing some young children, I invited them to splash in the baptismal font and even splash the congregation a bit too. . . . In The Gift of Wonder, Christine Aroney-Sine is pointing to those splashing in the water inviting us to do more of the same in order to be more of what God intends for us to be."
"Jesus talks about childlike trust in God. The apostle Paul writes about compassion and thankfulness. These themes play a big role in Christine Aroney-Sine's new book. Using stories from the Bible, creative exercises, reflection questions, and her own beautiful poems, Christine addresses the questions of how we can bring joy to God and how we can live out the Christian faith as a journey of discovery. The topics of her book—awe, play, curiosity, creativity, imagination, adventure, and wonder—bring balm to the soul in this age of fear and polarization. She guides us on pathways to experience God's generous gifts and to grow in contentment and peace in Christ."
"Christine Aroney-Sine has always provided a consistently prophetic voice that is edged with intelligence and grace and enfolded in an active spirituality of discipleship. This book continues in that vein. The Gift of Wonder takes the reader on a journey of discovery through the integration of goodness, beauty, and truth. A great read."
"There's a deep desire among so many people I work with as a spiritual director and pastor to connect with God in a new way, to get out of their heads and into their bodies and hearts, to lighten up and play, to experience joy and healing. Christine Aroney-Sine is one of my favorite writers and practitioners because she brings things to life in simple yet profound ways; The Gift of Wonder is a wonderful mix of accessible spiritual practices, stories, and hope for those who long to experience the kingdom of God here—now. I have no doubt it will rekindle delight and ignite our sense of wonder for all who engage with it."
"In a culture that values adulthood it will stretch us to explore Jesus' crucial observation that we can only enter the kingdom through childlikeness. To explore that strange reality we'll need some friends on the journey. Christine Aroney-Sine is such a friend, inviting us into the kind of rich, whole-person communal engagement with God we knew as children. If you join her on this playful, messy, wonder-full adventure, you might never be the same again!"
"The Gift of Wonder is a joyful and profoundly serious invitation to get dirty and play with the Creator. This book makes me want to get outside, take out some art supplies, become curious, and experience divine delight! If you are craving a fresh approach to connecting with God, this book will ignite your imagination and inspire you to explore new life-giving practices."
"As a pastor committed to the spiritual nurture and formation of my congregation, this book is a dream resource. Christine Aroney-Sine doesn't just recover the by now familiar ground of spiritual practices laid out by others, she brings to bear research, commentary, story, and practical experience that make her contemporary take on these practices (and the large number of new practices she offers) applicable to a huge range of settings, learning styles, and intelligences. A rare strength of what she offers is that it isn't a soft spirituality but a robust approach that has something in it for men as well as women. Any individual, group, or leader will find creative inspiration and sustenance to flourish in this book."
"For many, the term spiritual disciplines conjures thoughts of monotonous practices performed alone and by rote, but not for Christine Aroney-Sine. With her usually exuberant style she reimagines the spiritual practices as communal activities that restore the intense joy and unbridled enthusiasm God wants for all followers. The Gift of Wonder is indeed a gift for anyone wanting to explore more creative approaches to the spiritual disciplines. The exercises and prayers are worth the price of admission alone."
"Refreshing and helpful, The Gift of Wonder soothed my oft-weary spirit. In our polarized, driven, and consumer-obsessed culture, this book is an invitation into God's creative freedom. Christine not only encourages us to wonder again like a little child, she also gives us practical ways to experience God's delight. From the childlike characteristic of playfulness to trust, she leads us into a rare and grace-filled space of choosing joy."
"I trust Christine Aroney-Sine to teach me about wonder because she lives with playful curiosity—discovering beauty in the unexpected and the everyday details of life—and she writes with uncommon eloquence and simplicity."
"Christine Aroney-Sine's The Gift of Wonder is a book of wisdom and delight! Repeatedly while reading, I found myself grinning and laughing from sheer joy. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, 'Only one response can maintain us: gratefulness for witnessing the wonder.' Gratefulness in the form of paying attention, adoring the work of God in the world, and reveling in the mystery of our own life and our lives woven together pervades Christine's The Gift of Wonder. From philosophical and theological reflection to practical application, Christine shares how to see anew through appreciating God's goodness infused all about us. She gives full permission to play—to delight in the Lord's delight of each of us! Read this and then live it; it's that good."
"Play, pray, plant, paint! Christine Aroney-Sine invites us to recover our childlike sense of wonder. Each page encourages us to pause, to exhale, and to breathe in each moment with holy awe. Aroney-Sine offers wise, practical ways to care for our souls by cultivating gardens all around us. This is lived theology, rooted in the world, mediated through our eyes and ears, hearts and hands. I'm grateful for such respite and creative renewal."
"The Gift of Wonder is warm and inviting, thoughtful and sincere. Its calm, persistent playfulness chips away at the too-serious facades of faith, uncovering a joyful faith that is refreshing and deep. Its tools and exercises will help Christians more fully embrace God by diving into childlike wonder."
1. Delight Yourself in God
2. Open Yourself to Awe and Wonder
Practice—Ten Miracles Before Breakfast
3. Let Your Life Speak
Practice—Listen to Your Life
4. Unleash Your Inner Child
Practice—Plan a Playdate
5. Set Your Imagination Free
Practice—Read a Children’s Book
6. Give Yourself the Gift of Curiosity
Practice—Walk a Finger Labyrinth
7. Remember We Are Earthlings
Practice—Seed Bomb Our Neighborhoods
8. Return to the Rhythm of Life
Practice—Have Fun with Leaves
9. Rest in the Moment
Practice—Walking in Circles
10. Cultivate Gratitude
Practice—Plan a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
11. See Things Differently
Practice—Make a Rainbow
12. Stay Close to the Cracks
Practice—Shine Light in the Cracks
13. Come to the Table
Practice—Welcome to the Manger
14. Embrace Trust
Practice—Braid the Cords Together
Appendix: Guidelines for Leading a Group