Theaomai; from thaomai (n.f.), to wonder. To behold, view attentively; to contemplate. It is regard for something marked by a sense of wonderment; a contemplative and ponderous gaze which carefully and deliberately observes an object in order to perceive it correctly and in detail. Theaomai involves more than merely seeing, it is noticing, recognizing, and taking note of something with reflection and acute interest.

from the Key Word Study Bible.

Buckeye seedsThe greater the attention we bring to the world, the more beautiful it becomes, the more we stand in awe. When I walk into the field with my journal in my hand, my goal is to peel back the layers, and let a new aspect of the world reveal itself. I want to stand in wonder and learn something new from what I see. When I behold in this way I am constantly surprised and delighted by the beauty, resilience, ingenuity, and variety of the world.This kind of seeing takes focus, concentration, and practice but the fruits of this effort are deeply rewarding.

Let’s bring back the word theaomai (pronunciation) to describe this form of fierce, reverent inquiry. Better yet, let’s go outside and fall more deeply in love with the world through deep attention.

See also: Paying Attention and Falling in Love with Nature.


10 thoughts on “Theaomai

  1. Barbara Winkle says:

    Love this post (of course, I love all of them) inspiring. Thank you once again. I do hope that one day you might offer a class in the Seattle area. I’d gladly drive 300 miles across state to attend. Still, will continue to love all your posts. Looking forward to purchasing your book soon.

  2. Dena Shunra says:

    Thank you for this. It seems closely related to love (not in the narrow romantic version loosely connected to eros) but to the broader, deeper senses of the word. Wonderment, indeed.

  3. Margaret Hart says:

    Jack by your own enthusiasm and awe you encourage people to wonder deeply. With each post and each workshop you impart the tools needed to attend reverently to what is seen.
    At the Fernandez Ranch nature journaling hike on 3/24/13 two of your comments I recorded in my journal have stuck with me. “We observe attentively until the becomes thou.” And we should notice carefully until our observation “becomes the doorway into thanks.”
    You’re a fantastic teacher.

  4. I think you are talking about zen. The zen master spend hours looking at something to draw and only a few minutes capturing the essence. I believe my drawing teacher at Theodore La Guardia High School of Music and Art told me that story. Actually, I don’t remember where I heard that story.

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