Tuesday — “We teach children how to measure, how to weigh. We fail to teach them how to revere, how to sense the wonder and awe.” Thank you Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Rediscovering wonder takes root in the soil of the simple sentence, “I never noticed that before.” I am welcoming, inviting life in (this life), not allowing internal censors and judges to scrutinize, making certain that this moment passes muster. In moments of amazement, we render our internal scorekeeper mute. There is a good deal of conjecture about who merits this streak of luck and why. Some people get all the moments of astonishment. Or perhaps, they’ve allowed themselves to see.
Either way, these moments—let’s call them Levi’s gift bag—sustain us. They create a fabric in our soul which absorbs daily miracles.
Is this easy to do? No, and I can tell you that on some days, it feels very far away. The weight, is too much.
Barbara Kingsolver wrote recently, “There are days when I can’t live in this country. Not the whole thing at once, including the hateful parts, the misogyny, the brutal disregard of the powerful for the powerless. Sometimes I can only be a citizen of these trees, this rainy day, the family I can hold safe, the garden I can grow. A fire that refuses to go out.”
Thank you, Barbara. I too need the reminder of the replenishing and sustaining power that comes from gentle and ordinary gifts of grace.
Places where wonder is alive and healing.
Places where we are grounded and whole.
So. This week we’re pushing the reset button.
In our world of juggling topics that weigh heavy, it’s reset time.
Tell me, where are you replenished and hydrated?
Where do you sense awe and wonder?
Where does the fire refuse to go out?
Where are you comforted by ordinary gifts of grace?
We can give ourselves the permission to be present. Even when uncertain and anxious, we can be fully awake, and from this place we can give. We care. We can make a difference.
On one of my walks through the forest, I overheard a couple talking. “What a beautiful way to spend the day.”
I smiled. Yes indeed.
Spend. That’s the right verb.
Let us approach the day with a choice: Today, I choose to pay attention. Pausing (yes even in our broken world), for moments of awe and wonder.
(This is not about withdrawal or pretending. It’s about being our real best awake self in this moment.)
This from Pablo Casals always does my heart good. “For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner. It is not a mechanical routine but something essential to my daily life. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach. I cannot think of doing otherwise. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning for me. It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with the feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being.” Pablo Casals (at age 93)
Wednesday — Sabbath Moment friend Rabbi Ted Falcon tells the story about Jacob waking up; “being initiated into a far more expansive appreciation of the interconnectedness of all Being. After obtaining the blessing of the firstborn that Esau had expected to receive, Jacob flees the anger of his brother. On his first night alone in the wilderness, he lay down and slept.
After his dream, he wakes…
‘And Jacob awoke from his sleep, and he said, Surely Eternal Being is in this place; and I did not know.’ (The Book of Genesis)
Awakening is always the intrusion of the greater meaning into the present moment. We awaken to what we had been blind to, but which is always here. Jacob realizes that his place is a place of connection — a place where levels of reality meet.
‘And he was afraid, and said, How awesome is this place! this is no other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’”
Yes. Waking up. The invitation and permission to be here now.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s reminder, “To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.”
I do know this: When we live awake, our world is different, changed. We now see. We are open to receive. And we embrace our better angel. (Too often relegated to slumber, I’m afraid.)
You see, our better angel enters the day vulnerable and receptive, filled with empathy (sometimes heartache and melancholy), and fueled by compassion and always the possibility for redemption.
No, waking up is not easy. Lord have mercy.
You know, what if I get anxious or scared? The problem is when I assume that this vulnerability (openness to the miracle of the present, however fragile or momentary or imperfect) is unacceptable, or needs to be covered up and apologized for.
But here’s the deal: Awake, we find our real self.
Bottom line: In this moment, this Terry is enough.
Waking up. To be here now.
And now we’re back to how we forget awe and wonder (the sacrament of the present moment, the ordinary the hiding place of the holy) because we’re tempted to weigh and measure.
“I come to my solitary woodland walk as the homesick go home. I thus dispose of the superfluous and see things as they are, grand and beautiful.” Henry David Thoreau
So. My new word for this week: Ambedo (noun): A kind of melancholic trance in which you become completely absorbed in vivid sensory details—raindrops skittering down a window, tall trees leaning in the wind, clouds of cream swirling in your coffee—briefly soaking in the experience of being alive, an act that is done purely for its own sake.
Here’s to Ambedo moments this week…
To borrow from Jim Elliot, “Wherever you are be all there.”
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
We thank you for all your gifts.
This day, this night
These fruits, these flowers,
These trees, these waters-
With all these treasures you have endowed us.
The heat of the sun, the light of the moon,
The songs of the birds and the coolness of the breeze,
The green, green grass like a mattress of velvet,
All owe their existence to your grace.
Dear God, May we forever breathe the breath of your love
And every moment be aware
Of your presence above.
Photo… “Terry my husband and I were lucky enough to walk to Brandywine Falls (Summit County, Ohio) at the exact time the rays of sun were shining through. We stopped to take it in. I told my husband how often you remind us all to stop and be present in the beauty around us. Thank you Terry. ” Sue Stockard