This week I feel an apology is in order. Over the last few months, I allowed my focus to be captivated by the series of illnesses that drained my energy, kept me out of the garden, away from my awe and wonder walks, and grumbling at my restrictions. The awe and wonder that usually pervades my life deserted me. Not surprising but definitely not impressive.
This week my focus changed. It started with a quote by Mo Thomas in the Facebook group Living in the Spirit. “When awe becomes a regular occurrence in our theology, the discipline of rigourous study becomes a journey of joyful discovery rather than a burdened obligation.” Wow – theology through the lens of awe. That sounds revolutionary to me.
People crave awe and wonder. What if I made awe and wonder the lens through which I view all things? At first, I dismissed the idea as absurd. Then I read an article entitled Why You Need to Protect Your Sense of Wonder – Especially Now. The author proclaims: “Helping participants to explore, experience, and recall moments of awe is one of the key scientifically supported strategies we engage in during our workshops and it’s been rewarding to see our participants benefit and bring what they’ve learned to their own organizations.”
Awe and wonder suddenly burst forth all around me and I thought maybe I need to take this idea of awe and wonder as the lens through which I view all things seriously. So I asked myself, Where else have I missed the awe and wonder that should pervade my life because I was focused on my aches and pains rather than the wonder of God’s world around me?
I decided to take a virtual awe and wonder walk through my life and check it out.
A pause for prayer and what came to my mind is the local Buy Nothing group I belong to. An unexpected place to start but certainly worthy of awe and wonder. The generosity of people in our neighbourhood is astounding. People give away furniture and TVs and computers as well as almost expired groceries and other produce. It inspired me to give away items I would once have tried to sell – like a beautiful old antique dresser and the 50 tomato plants that got mislabelled this year. Today I was awed by the offer of a creative party plan with a Harry Potter theme. I was so tempted even though I don’t have kids or grandkids. The generosity of our neighbourhood amazes me in other ways too. The August ice cream social with free Häagen-Dazs ice cream as well as treats from many of the local businesses. Games for the kids and music for all of us completed the evening – such a wonderful way to strengthen bonds in the neighbourhood.
Another pause and I remembered the huge worldwide network of friends I enjoy, many of whom have been friends for 40 or 50 years. My closest friend even invited me and another close friend into her family as second and third mothers for her sons and aunties for her grandchildren. Wow, wow, and wow. That is truly awe-inspiring.
Then there is my husband Tom. Almost 30 years married and still growing closer every year. And around both of us is the small intentional community that sustained us through the midst of the pandemic and continues to support us in the busyness of life. One awe-inspiring aspect of our lives is the hospitality we offer, first to each other and then to friends. Over the summer we held a few small gatherings that enriched us with the delight of conversation over a meal or a cup of coffee. Hospitality is an awe-inspiring expression of life and of our faith. Think of the many times in the Old and New Testament that the joy of life was expressed through hospitality, or even more awe-inspiring when new theological truths were revealed around the table.
Lastly, I look at the everyday details of my life and remind myself of how fortunate I am. As my fingers speed across the keyboard, I am awed by the dexterity of these small digits. I look at a stack of my prayer cards and am awed by the continuing creativity with which God blesses me. Wow, wow, wow. So much to be awed by, and I have not mentioned my neighbourhood awe and wonder walk which is once more a part of my daily exercise.
Awe and wonder are all around us. It really should be the lens through which we view all things. All we need to do is stop and notice. Perhaps what we all need is awe and wonder pauses throughout the day. Perhaps at night, a virtual awe and wonder walk is called for. I am sure it will decrease my stress and probably create the resilience I so desire in my life.
What about you? Consider stopping for a virtual awe and wonder walk through your life.
Sit quietly and take a few deep breaths in and out. What comes to your mind as an unexpected area of awe and wonder? Allow your thoughts to explore it and relish the joy and delight it inspires. Pause and allow your thoughts to wander to the next place of awe and wonder God inspires you with. Perhaps you would like to write these down or like me just sit in the glow of these recollections.