In 1986 Queen Elizabeth asked Reverend Mayne to become Dean of Westminster Cathedral, where he served until 1996. This Sunrise of Wonder is a joyous autobiography written for his grandchildren about what it means to be human in a world filled with wonder. It is a collection and reflection on the writers and artists whose gifts awakened the coming together of his own inner and outer worlds and his wondrous gift of seeing and sharing the extraordinariness of everything. This G. K. Chesterton quote inspired the title:
“At the back of our brains, so to speak, there is a forgotten blaze or burst of astonishment at our own existence. The object of the artistic and spiritual life is to dig for this sunrise of wonder.”
Reverend Mayne’s encouragement to all of us is to search for and find the wonder in all of life and “listen with your full attention to those who, as it were, touch your sleeve and invite you to see what the landscape and the journey look like to them. And most especially those who have a reverent and infectious wonder.”
Betty Skinner, whose beautiful story we have chronicled in The Hidden Life Awakened, is another of those who call us to awaken to the beauty and wonder within and all around.
We have difficulty embracing mystery and wonder. We have a need to reduce everything to certain material, pragmatic and mechanical principles that we can grasp. In so doing, we lose the very possibility of developing our “sixth sense” which is the sense of wonder. It is well to remember that our inner world deals with words like transcendence, beyond-ness, mystery, beauty and wonder. This sixth sense, as we begin to develop it, brings together our inner and our outer worlds. As our inscape begins to match our landscape, we come to a place of inner harmony and begin to experience the Beyond in our midst.
In what is called the mystical tradition, this consciousness of the Beyond is present in many believers in a very intense form. Their spirituality has been greatly influenced and directed by the development of their sixth sense, this sense of wonder, as well as other mystical graces they receive during prayer. Their words are words that give life, new minted, fresh and from the heart. They touch us at our very center. Theirs is not a secondhand theology. For God in Christ does not offer those who hear Him a secondhand theology. He offers them Himself: “The Word made flesh, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) In the beginning was the Word and it is the Word that gives life. But in the end is silence, when all our halting words are stilled. It is the silence of gratitude and wonder.
Wondrous Love! ~Betty