Wake Up to Wonder

22 Invitations to Amazement in the Everyday

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In her quest to live a vibrant spiritual life, Karen Wright Marsh had a revelation: she didn't need to find and follow the perfect plan; she needed people she could follow.

In Wake Up to Wonder, Marsh introduces you to those people--faithful yet oh-so-human Christians from across centuries and cultures. Inspired by their example, she offers playful, simple practices that bring deeper meaning and purpose to everyday life.

In the company of diverse spiritual companions, you'll journey through physical health, prayer, activism, Scripture reading, creativity, and beyond. Each chapter includes hands-on invitations such as writing prompts, space for personal reflection, and "Try This," a collage of spiritual and personal experiments anyone can do.

As you wake up to wonder, you'll discover what these twenty-two historical figures already knew: that a life of spiritual depth, amazement, and connection is within reach--today and every day.

Historical Figures Covered
Henri J. M. Nouwen
Martin Luther
Thomas Merton
Hildegard von Bingen
Margery Kempe
Wangari Maathai
Amanda Berry Smith
Lilias Trotter
Fannie Lou Hamer
Patrick of Ireland
Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl
Howard Thurman
Pandita Ramabai
Ephrem the Syrian
Ignatius of Loyola
Benedict and Scholastica
Brother Lawrence
Francis of Assisi and Clare of Assisi
Dorothy Day
Mabel Ping-Hua Lee


Invitation to Wonder
Wake Up
1. Put Pen to Paper • Henri J. M. Nouwen
2. Sing Out Loud • Martin Luther
3. Follow Your Breath • Thomas Merton
4. Fuel Up • Hildegard von Bingen
5. Keep on Walking • Margery Kempe
Reach Out
6. Plant a Tree • Wangari Maathai
7. Say Thank You • Caedmon
8. Pray Your Anything • Amanda Berry Smith
9. Ask Better Questions • Augustine
10. Look to See • Lilias Trotter
11. Raise Your Voice • Fannie Lou Hamer
Go Deep
12. Embrace Alone • Patrick of Ireland
13. Review the News • Hans Scholl and Sophie Scholl
14. Take a Pause • Howard Thurman
15. Wander through Scripture • Pandita Ramabai
16. Surround Yourself with Beauty • Ephrem the Syrian
17. Replay the Day • Ignatius of Loyola
18. Design a Life • Benedict and Scholastica
19. Choose Your Intention • Brother Lawrence
20. Do the Unexpected • Francis of Assisi and Clare of Assisi
21. Escape to the Beach • Dorothy Day
22. Take the Lead • Mabel Ping-Hua Lee
Life Goes On


"Get ready to meet a delightful assortment of fellow travelers from throughout the ages who will guide you through practical, purposeful steps toward a Jesus-centered, hope-filled life. This is a book you will go back to many times!"

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church; author of Love Is the Way and Crazy Christians

"What could be better than spending time with friends--including some spiritual masters--who give you insightful and enduring advice on how to live? Karen Wright Marsh's beautiful new book introduces readers to some of the women and men who have guided her along life's difficult but also delightful paths, helping her--and now us--find a way to wonder and joy."

James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide

"I was surprised by how much I needed the spiritual sustenance that Wake Up to Wonder offers. Marsh highlights the lives of familiar and new companions, ordinary people whose creativity and purpose radiate long after their earthly sojourn has come to an end. Then, she invites us to nurture our own wellsprings of wonder."

Barbara A. Holmes, core faculty at the Center for Action and Contemplation; author of Joy Unspeakable, Race and the Cosmos, and Crisis Contemplation

"Both in print and in person, Karen Wright Marsh has been a friend of mine for years. Her presence in both places has helped to root my soul in a deeper awareness of meaning and purpose."

Jon Foreman, front man for Grammy Award-winning rock band Switchfoot

"Karen Wright Marsh successfully combines the wisdom of spiritual masters with her own down-to-earth insights to provide an easily accessible toolkit for those who are seeking an antidote to the stress and chaos of the modern world. Her invitations to sing, breathe, walk, and so on give people simple ways to fill up the spiritual gas tank and face the challenges of life with renewed hope and strength."

Sister Monica Clare, CSJB, TikTok influencer

The Author

  1. Karen Wright Marsh
    © Gudrun Senger

    Karen Wright Marsh

    Karen Wright Marsh is the founding director of Theological Horizons, a ministry at the University of Virginia that hosts lectures, spiritual studies, dialogues, and mentoring initiatives. She is the author of Vintage Saints and Sinners: 25 Christians Who...

    Continue reading about Karen Wright Marsh


"[Marsh] dips into the lives of 22 extraordinary figures to reveal the ordinary patterns of life that make for remarkable people. Many of them are well-known. . . . But refreshingly, the book includes exemplars who are not. The author picks out habits or practices from each subject that readers can easily do as well. . . . Although all of the subjects March commends to the reader are Christians, the suggested practices are not bound by any religious faith and open to anyone who strives to live deliberately."

James Wetherbee,

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