The Advent Writings, Day 14: Ammirationis

Ammirationis: wonder, surprise, astonishment; admiration, veneration, regard; marvel.
(Source: William Whitaker’s Words)
“Edward Magorium – Toy Impresario, Wonder Aficionado, Avid Shoe Wearer”
(Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium – one of my all-time favorite movies. When it comes to adult taste in movies, I just say “no.”)
(The list also includes both Nanny McPhee movies, both Cars movies, and absolutely both Kung Fu Panda movies. Insert the Vicki mantra here – refer to previous installments to find that reference.)

(Oh – and “UP.” Loved it.)

(Not so much “Finding Nemo,” for which opinion the Eldest Niecelet has written me out of her will. Just for that, I’m going to make good on my threat to have myself stuffed, and force the Niecelets to pass me around year after year like a sport trophy. That’ll show her, especially when the other two realize it’s all her fault. Hah.)
Anyway, Mr. Magorium, Wonder Aficionado. I loved that phrase as soon as I heard it. It’s in the movie twice, and I won’t reveal where, since it would give away part of the plot, but the words stuck with me – Wonder Aficionado.
Is that me? Shouldn’t that be me? Or us?
Sometimes, I think we see adulthood as the opposite of wonder. One comes in, the other goes out, as if someplace there’s a rule that both can’t exist in the same space. You’re either filled with (childlike) wonder, or you’re an adult. Pick one – you can’t have both.
If you’re an adult filled with wonder, it’s because people wonder about you. They smile tolerantly as you stroll by, wearing a cape or a beret, smiling and laughing way too loud, perhaps dancing a bit as you walk, doing a few Tai Chi moves in the aisle at the store, or busting out some of your best (worst) moves every time the “Save Big Money” song plays at Menard’s. You dance around as you play the bass, proving that a certain white boy ain’t got no game, or make all kinds of other odd gyrations as you play any other instrument. They call you eccentric, they laugh and smile, and make the “few fries short of a happy meal” sign behind your back. (That last you don’t know for certain, since, of course, it’s behind your back. But having a fertile imagination, you can certainly see it happening.)
Is all this sounding a touch auto-biographical? Have you ever SEEN me shake what my momma gave me during the “Save Big Money” song? You have?
Oops. Busted.
Alright, so we’ve established that I’m a wonder that you wonder about. Wonderful. Riddle me this, Bat Friends…
Where is it along the way that we dump wonder? What’s the point where we lose the ability to cut loose in public? How do we go from “not a care in the world” to “stop it – people will stare!”?
When does the opinion of people we’ll never know trump inner joy and outward expression?
Ah, my dear ones, the advantage of being reborn is this – the second time around, you simply don’t care what others think.
Now, I don’t mean that in a “I can make inappropriate comments and noises in public because I don’t care what people think” kind of way, not a “my way or the highway, bow before my needs, or I’ll flatten you like a steamroller because I don’t care about what you think” kind of way, and certainly not a “I can’t possibly live up to your expectations, so I’ll go the other way to be as obnoxious and contrary as possible and prove to you that I don’t care what you think” kind of way.
No, the view of the reborn is that of seeing the world as it really is, free of the baggage we all place upon it. And, my dear ones, I’ll say it right out loud, crystal clear with no doubt about my meaning:
I’ve been reborn.
In your second life, the superficial seems to have no hold upon you, because on the path to being reborn, you shed a lot of the garbage you’ve built around yourself over the years. If you are reborn later in life, as I was, there’s no time for status, opinion, or shallow expectation – the time you have left is so precious that to spend any of it on the mundane seems wasteful and wrong.
“Cal, isn’t it a little lofty and extreme to say you’ve been ‘reborn?’ I mean, sure, you’ve been through quite a change, but using that term? I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that claim…”
Let me refocus a bit, and see if it becomes clearer…
When I say I’ve been reborn, understand, dear ones, that I’m not the one who did the reborning. I’ve been in the back seat, along for the ride, a willing participant, but not the one driving the car. Our Father God asked me to take one step on the path, to simply say “yes,” and He put the pedal to the metal.
I’ve been reborn because He gave me my second life. I’m a miracle because He made me one. I see the world with eyes of wonder; because I see it with new eyes. I’ve told this story many, many times, and will continue to do so:
The very first words I heard when waking up in my hospital room after the surgery that started my journey to rebirth, either in a voice speaking to me or in my own thoughts but not of my own making, I don’t know which, were these: “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.”
I’ve been reborn.
There’s no other way I can put it – believe me, I’ve been flailing around for the right word picture to explain what’s happened to me since March 30, 2010. Weight lost, health gained, and those are the tiniest parts of it. When you see it all together, see the gestalt, the whole that’s greater than the sum of the parts, there’s only one way to capture it in one phrase:
I’ve been reborn.

And wonder is now my native tongue.
To put it any less extravagantly would be a lie, and would diminish the miracle my Father has done. (Ok – it would attempt to diminish it – God’s work can’t be added to or diminished by my tiny words…) Were I claiming that I did this on my own, that I’ve made this great achievement, then that declaration would deny His provision and negate my claim. If you grit your way through by your own strength and are standing on your own merit, you haven’t been reborn.
Sorry – just callin’ ’em like I sees ’em.
“Um, Cal, oh he who claims to be reborn, who I suspect has just taken an overdose of his happy pills today, where are you going with this?”
I’m going to the best part… I’m no different than anyone else. I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam. And so’s you.
Dear friends, in Jesus Christ, the Babe of Bethlehem, we are all reborn! We are all living, breathing, walking miracles. We have come from darkness into His marvelous light! Sure, my rebirth has been dramatic, one that you can see and understand. I’m a mobile picture of walking from death to life, but that picture fits all who call on His name! The reason I’ve been given so much light, so much wonder is this –
Look at me, look at HIM!
The same God who parted the sea is the same God who raised our Lord from death to life. He’s the same God who spoke through the prophets, healed the sick, restored sight and wholeness, brought sanity out of madness, and empowered believers in a rushing wind. He’s the same God who took me from 480 pounds in January 2009, to around 440 in February 2010 to around 220 presently. From death to life.
And guess what? He didn’t go covert. He’s not undercover. He still moves in a mighty, dramatic way. His hand still does the impossible; He still rescues and saves, comforts and heals, restores and empowers.
Look at me, look at HIM!
Where, along the way, do we decide it’s time to dump wonder and “grow up?” Why can’t wonder and adulthood exist in the same person? It can, it does, and it’s wonderful, because He continues to move. He is wonderful, and we are filled with wonder.
In Jesus, we are all reborn. So enter your second life, leave behind all the stiff trappings of being “adult,” and celebrate in childlike wonder. Be reborn. Shed the darkness of the mundane and become the luminous beings we are in Him – to shine like stars in the universe. Embrace the wonderful, absurd, amazing, puzzling, breathtaking, inexplicable truth of the Good News: in Christ, we are new!
Welcome to the promise of Advent that we carry through all our days. Welcome to your second life. Care to join me in the “Save Big Money” happy dance?
No worries – when you’re ready, I’ll be here. And so will He.
Ammirationis: wonder, surprise, astonishment; admiration, veneration, regard; marvel.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17 (TNIV)


  1. Ammirationis, indeed. And long may the eccentric live!

    You’ve written…and lived…something profound and beautiful here. Each time I hear you telling (or writing) of your journey I begin to believe again that dramatic rebirth is possible in Jesus for ALL of us.

    Today David and I took two developmentally-different brothers out for shopping/a movie/Culver’s to celebrate Christmas. Their complete lack of knowledge of status or stress makes me happy.

    Some of my favorite parts were when the autistic brother would wander the aisles of Kohl’s clapping his hands for no reason. When leaving Culver’s, as the clerks said “Merry Christmas!” he offered a curtsy/bow and took his leave. Oh that every 44 year old were this carefree, this unburdened, this ready to celebrate.

    Keep writing, my friend. Your thoughts inspire us–and remind us not to waste a minute on the mundane.

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