“Philosophy begins in wonder” – Plato
All searching for wisdom, all attempting to encounter reality, all seeking the grain of the universe begins with wonder. The philosophers say that the most fundamental question we can ask is, why is there something rather than nothing? The fact that there is anything at all, poses a question to each of us,, animating all our searching and the variously limned responses to that searching.
To be drawn deeper into the mystery of being, and ultimately into communion with the One who gives all things their being.
It is true that children – without any air of cynicism oppressing them & their lack of worry about the material necessities of life – are most immediately open to this animating wonder. They, often more so than we grown-ups, seem to be able to penetrate the depths of the things around them. Without concepts or words (or very few concepts & words), they seem to have an intuitive & immediate grasp or vision of the Divine Plentitude that pours Itself into all things, giving all things their shape & form. The earthworm brought to the surface by a spring rain; the “weed” that the busy father would just pass by (if not extirpate); the fish tank at the doctor’s office waiting room – these are all occasions for the child to wonder, to be drawn deeper into the mystery of being, and ultimately into communion with the One who gives all things their being. What’s prosaic for the adult is a portal of communion for the child.
It is, perhaps, with this in mind that Jesus says, “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Being awoken to wonder is not merely about gaining wisdom for wisdom’s sake, about becoming a recondite & subtle philosopher; rather, wisdom is about recovering child-like wonder at the far end of experience – at the far end of a life ordered purely around worldly concern and what is considered “realistic” or “mature” – and it is the sine qua non, the condition of possibility, for entering the Kingdom of Heaven.
For Canongate, to allow for wonder within our curriculum, to allow room for the question of being to ask itself, is essential to a genuine education. A healthy dose of leisure echoes throughout our school days, so that our students wouldn’t just busily pass by the “weeds” & “mundane” elements of the world but would allow those things to become vicars of the Infinite Wellspring that is God.