After sending last week's message about Awe & Wonder, I kept running across other writings about the same topic! It's kind of funny how it seems like that happens - a lesson I need to learn keeps coming across my path!
Rather than use my own words again, I wanted to share some powerful words from author Cole Arthur Riley, from their work, This Here Flesh*.
I think awe is an exercise, both a doing and a being. It is a spiritual muscle of our humanity that we can only keep from atrophying if we exercise it habitually. I sit in the clearing behind [my home] listening to the song of the barn swallows mix with the sound of cars speeding by. I watch the milk current through my tea and the little leaves dance free from their pouch. I linger in the mirror and I don’t look away. I trace the shadows hugging my lips and I don’t look away. Awe is not a lens through which to see the world but our sole path to seeing. Any other lens is not a lens but a veil. And I’ve come to believe that our beholding—seeing the veils of this world peeled back again and again, if only for a moment—is no small form of salvation.
When I speak of wonder, I mean the practice of beholding the beautiful. Beholding the majestic—the snow-capped Himalayas, the sun setting on the sea—but also the perfectly mundane—that soap bubble reflecting your kitchen, the oxidized underbelly of that stainless steel pan. More than the grand beauties of our lives, wonder is about having the presence to pay attention to the commonplace. It could be said that to find beauty in the ordinary is a deeper exercise than climbing to the mountaintop….
Wonder includes the capacity to be in awe of humanity, even your own. It allows us to jettison the dangerous belief that things worthy of wonder can only be located on nature hikes and scenic overlooks. This can distract us from the beauty flowing through us daily. For every second that our organs and bones sustain us is a miracle. When those bones heal, when our wounds scab over, this is our call to marvel at our bodies—their regeneration, their stability or frailty. This grows our sense of dignity. To be able to marvel at the face of our neighbor with the same awe we have for the mountaintop, the sunlight refracting—this manner of vision is what will keep us from destroying each other….
Wonder requires a person not to forget themselves but to feel themselves so acutely that their connectedness to every created thing comes into focus. In sacred awe, we are a part of the story.
See why I wanted to share this with you?! Powerful words!
I'll wrap up by asking the same questions from last week. How could you invite a little more awe and wonder in your life this week? What impact might that make on your life and outlook?
Here's to embracing some more awe and wonder this week!
*Cole Arthur Riley, This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us (New York: Convergent, 2022), 31–32, 36, 37.
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