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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

The Joy of Surprise

On a family vacation in Spain many years ago, we visited the Royal Alcázars of Seville, a palace dating back to the 10th Century. After exploring the grounds and the interior for a good long time, we thought we’d seen everything this magnificent palace had to offer and we were getting ready to leave – but the best was yet to come.

Our son Ben had set off on his own and he returned to tell us excitedly, “You guys have to go downstairs. You’ve gotta see this.”

We followed him down to a secluded underground area where we were greeted by a huge reflective pool topped by symmetrical arches. We stood breathless. This pool, we later learned, was used for bathing by the mistress of King Peter the Cruel. If Ben hadn’t ventured off the beaten path, we would have missed one of our favorite sights from our trip.

Brother David Steindl-Rast, a 96-year-old author, scholar and Benedictine monk, stresses the importance of welcoming the unexpected into our lives with joy. In fact, one of his five guiding principles is “Everything is surprise.”

Each time I see this photo I took of the reflective pool, it's a refreshing reminder of the joy of surprise.

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