Edward Hays is the author of more than 30 books on contemporary spirituality and the devotional life. He is the co-founder and a moving spirit of Forest of Peace Publishing. Hays has served as director of Shantivanam, a Midwest center for contemplative prayer, and as a chaplain of the state penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas. He is one of the Living Spiritual Teachers profiled on this website.
D. H. Lawrence once wrote: "The sense of wonder; that is our sixth sense and it is a natural religious sense." Edward Hays has a highly developed sense of wonder. Throughout his writing career he has been a diligent and very attentive detective searching for the sacred in everyday life. In any given book, you can discover imaginative spiritual practices to try and numerous epiphanies that startle the mind and spur the soul to greater questing. He is curious as a child and able to see the world with fresh eyes. Hays always challenges us to try "awe-aerobics" (as Lily Tomlin recommends in one of her skits). He genuinely wants us not to miss anything that the Great Artist has put before us.
Welcome to A Book of Wonders, a work that Hays was destined to share with the world. These sprightly daily meditations walk us through the kingdom of surprises which is our daily round. Hays is right in sync with Rumi, the Sufi poet and seer who advises: "Observe the wonders as they occur around you. / Don't claim them. Feel the artistry / moving through and be silent." Hays accompanies is through each day of the year as an inimitable guide to the wonderful estate of Earth and its dowry of delights.
Here are some of the marvels that caught our fancy:
• the idea that humble service provides "prophylactic protection for the lethal disease of controlling the lives of others";
• the Beloved, like celebrities, wears disguises to keep believers guessing;
• the realization that it is our negative thoughts that make things distressing or painful;
• the challenge to practice a rite of the Egyptian priests of the sun god who began their day with a ritual of laughing in order to cleanse their souls;
• the need for pets who keep us connected to our animal core;
• the phenomenon that we can form a negative judgment about a person by a glance lasting no longer than 100 milliseconds;
• the plea for us all to become wonderworkers like Jesus at the wedding in Cana;
• the suggestion to reverence the one in all;
• the statement that if we want to get closer to God, just rub shoulders with the crowd;
• the notion that a key to the simple life is to constantly say "no thank you";
• a teaching about jazzing up sacred Scriptures;
• the ideal of being rich "in what can't be stolen, taxed, or depreciated";
• the wise counsel to speak little and listen much;
• the necessity of relying upon grace and finding security in uncertainty;
• the recommendation to live deliberately.
Sam Keen coined the term "wonderosity" by which he means the fountain of wonder and curiosity that resides in us all. Edward Hays is the high priest of wonderosity who wants us all to join him in this exciting and pleasurable quest. On almost every page you will find innovative ideas and creative exercises capped off by little spiritual practices. Here are a few examples:
• "Invest in me in the explorer's daring courage
to wander beyond the fences of my faith
with a question mark as my walking staff,
and so, by wandering wonder, to love you more."
• "Whenever I'm tempted to think,
instead of feel — to sense my way —
let me engage my animal talents
so all of who I am is fully alive."
• "Cleanse my eyes, blinded by age,
to see the marvels all around me,
so with clean new eyes I can see
my daily world is a wonderland."