Dory Rowing in the Canyon: Where Work and Wonder Meet

Where Work and Wonder Meet image

By Joseph Sunde

One day, while rowing down the Colorado River, Amber Shannon suddenly realized her vocation. “I really wanted to row little wooden boats down big rapids with big canyon walls,” she says. “That was the life dream.”

It may sound impractical to some, but tour guide John Shocklee calls being a boatman in the Grand Canyon “the most coveted job in the world.” “It’s definitely easier to get a PhD than it is to get a dory here in the Grand Canyon,” he says.

The economies of wonder and creative service each have their own attributes, each entailing unique forms of stewardship. But like all spheres of God’s creation, we see plenty of connection and cross-pollination. Shannon feels called to a life of wonder, of pressing toward and immersing herself in close and challenging encounters with God’s creation. Yet in doing this, she also helps others experience and behold that same wonder. She works, and she serves.

Some might say that the work of dory-rowing is “useless,” and in a certain sense, they’d be right. But so what?

As Evan Koons reminds us, there is a bigger picture to God’s creation than some conquest for utilitarian gain. “There’s more to the story than what we do and create,” he says. “Maybe understanding God’s Economy of Wonder and living it out starts with beholding the master of the universe and his unwarranted, gratuitous gift of everything that exists.”

God has given us much that exists simply for our time and attention, and those gifts are given for a reason. Learning to both work and rest within useless, gratuitous wonder helps us understand the full character of God and the shape and aim of his love — expanding our imaginations, stirring our hearts, refining our palates, and tuning our ears.

Being good stewards of this space is bound to feel “useless,” particularly in our age of shortcuts and convenience. But despite the allure of those competing pressures, priorities, and distractions — some of them worthier than others — the flourishing of all else depends on being able to take time and simply behold our God and his goodness.

Originally published at the Acton PowerBlog