The Need for Wonder

The plane I boarded in May flew over the dark Atlantic while I slept. My bags contained all the trappings for a romantic trip abroad: heels, dresses, a new bikini…and plenty of mommy guilt. I left the kids at home in good hands, flew into Barcelona alone, caught a taxi, took an elevator up to the 8th floor, and knocked on a hotel room door. The door swung open, and there he was. ”You made it!”

He, my lover, that boy I fell in love with almost 17 years ago, had left days before to tour London and Edinburgh. And now we were finally together on this much-awaited trip. I had only slept a bit on the plane that night, but I was still anxious to hit the road and see Barcelona. We were only in town for a few days before we would leave for the island of Mallorca so we had prioritized what we wanted to see. I was so excited to experience Antoni Gaudí’s church, La Sagrada Família.


The church remains unfinished, after decades of construction. Gaudí’s architectural vocabulary is otherworldly, cartoonish, joyful, and modern. But I wasn’t prepared.

After passing through those massive chiseled doors, I stood transfixed–absolutely arrested. And then the tears came.

And not just a watery eye but tight mouth, furrowed brow, bury my face crying.

Weeping, because my eyes could not look fast enough. Turning and turning in one spot with my head uplifted, I could not believe my eyes. Looking frantically because I knew I would have to eventually leave and continue our day, I desperately tried to file the beauty away.

The beauty, the beauty, the light and beauty. Then the mommy guilt vanished, and I realized I was meant to be there.

As I stood there among the other tourists and my concerned husband (“Are you okay?”), I reveled in the beauty and yet mourned it. Actually, I didn’t know what was happening to me. All I know, it was a moment of man created in the image of God, of God the Creator–of my conception of art and design and beauty and creativity being derivatives of Holy. Somehow under this stone forest canopy, I felt profound wonder. And I realized I need more wonder in my life.

I finally regained my composure and resigned myself to the fact that my naked vulnerability would be captured in the background of scores of tourist photos, me crying like a baby. We made our way to the basement, where I excused myself to a stall to sob again. Wonder. I was reminded of a quote from Donald Miller I had read on my friend Erin’s blog:

I want to tell you something about me that you may see as weakness. I need wonder. I know that death is coming. I smell it in the wind, read it in the paper, watch it on television, and see on the faces of the old. I need wonder to explain what is going to happen to me, what is going to happen to us when this thing is done, when our shift is over and our kids kids are still on the earth listening to their crazy rap music. I need something mysterious to happen after I die. I need to be somewhere else after I die, somewhere with God, somewhere that wouldn’t make any sense if it were explained to me right now.

At the end of the day, when I am lying in bed and I know that chances of any of our theology being exactly right are a million to one, I need to know that God has things figured out, that if my math is wrong we are still going to be okay. And wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don’t think there is any better worship than wonder. Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz.

We collected ourselves and then ventured to Parc Güell and Casa Batlló. Yes, of course, I love mosaic.

The day resumed as normal for us–silly jokes, hand holding, and vegetable paella…with my tear-stained makeup as evidence with my brush with wonder.

 Angela Blehm is the creative mind behind the design blog, The Painted House. Artist, painter, homeschooler, vegan chef extraordinnaire, wife and mother of three equally creative children outside of Atlanta, GA.

Posted on by Graceroots Movement in Articles

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