Not All Who Wonder Are Lost

Did you catch that typo?

Yes, I did mean to write “wonder” rather than “wander”, which is the phrasing of the original quote:

Not all who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve loved the original quote ever since I first heard it (which I’m pretty sure was even before I knew who J.R.R. Tolkien was!).

I read the “wonder” version as a typo on a screen printed dishtowel and chuckled at it but, funnily enough, it stuck with me since and I’ve enjoyed mulling over the thought.

Because in our culture of compulsory school, endless educational reforms, debate over different teaching methodologies, GPA’s and ACT’s, anxious college preparations…

We often aren’t quite sure what do with genuine, ever-hungry curiosity, are we?

One who just wonders seems incredibly lost.

Wondering and wandering are both… well… not on the agenda.


A waste of precious time, don’t you think?

I’ve always been more of “wonderer” than people quite know what to do with. I don’t know many people that ask quite as many questions as I do (as adults, that is) and it’s evident in people’s reactions to me at times that they don’t come across it often. Sometimes in a good way – to those that love answering questions as much as I like asking them – but more often puzzled and occasionally with a touch of annoyance.

I, myself, am never quite sure whether it’s more a vice or a virtue in me… a blight or a blessing?

But I’m gradually coming to appreciate more that it’s how God made me to be… and more than that, that it’s how God made everyone to be.

The wide eyed infant taking in and reacting exuberantly to every minute detail in her surroundings…

The toddler who asks “why? why? why?” until his parents collapse in exhaustion.

That wasn’t ever meant to stop.

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike, it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but he has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

G.K. Chesterton

Ponder that thought… “The eternal appetite of infancy”.

Do it again. Tell me again. Show me again.


There’s never an age we should “get down to business” and lose our wonder: the wonder of God’s great world and all that is in it. If he doesn’t lose his sense of wonder in his own work, then why would we ever accept it as normal that we do?

Because as fallen and as broken as this world is and we are, there is still an infinite amount of beauty and wonder to behold. To marvel at. To wonder at.

And isn’t that such a testament to the greatness of God and his marvelous handiwork that the world can be so utterly broken and dark but still have so much beauty left?

May we never lose our wonder.

Our wide eyed questioning.

Our sense of awe.

Indeed, the worshipful act of learning.

Don’t let anyone steal it from you. Don’t let it be stolen from your children.

If it’s been stolen from you in part, then put effort into rediscovering it. If your children have lost some of it, help them regain it. Give yourselves and them the gift of freedom and room to wonder, and show them how to turn wonder into worship as they take in God’s incredible world.

I hope that what I write here can help you begin (and continue) on that journey.

So… Happy Wondering 😉