Today, I thought we’d begin our contemplation with a brief word from Abraham Joshua Heschel on Awe. He writes this for us: “Awe is an intuition for the dignity of all things, a realization that things not only are what they are but also stand, however remotely, for something supreme. Awe is a sense for the transcendence, for the reference everywhere to mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimation of the divine, …to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal. What we cannot comprehend by analysis, we become aware of in awe.”
This past Sunday, Christians around the world celebrated resurrection. Resurrection is what some people might call rebirth or others might call restoration. It is the idea that what we experience in the here and now is not all that there is. It is the idea that in the daily walk of our lives in the here and now there is a realm called possibility waiting to be discovered.
Do you believe in resurrection? Do you believe in resurrection’s possibility? Perhaps it would be helpful to you to imagine is it possible for the addict to be resurrected into sobriety? Can you visualize families broken by addiction, infidelity and divorce finding new life? Can people suffering from depression, anxiety, or other debilitating mental health issues find healing and restoration? Can the ex-convict be reborn into new identity? Perhaps you can see yourself in these questions. If you answered yes to any of them, perhaps you too believe in resurrection. Are what we perceive as dead-ends simply new beginnings?
In these days of uncertainty, as you scroll through the news and your social media feeds, perhaps hope, resurrections possibility, may seem dim. However, as a recovering addict or anyone who has ever been in treatment might tell you, resurrection is a process. Every day we wake up and put one foot in front of the other towards restoration. Resurrection is a journey. In our individual and collective journey’s, when we cannot see what lies ahead, when the heaviness of this life makes the next step feel remote, I encourage you to consider looking up, out and around with wonder and awe. Embrace wonder and awe and invite resurrection possibilities.
Like Abraham Heschel, social science researchers at greatergood.berkley.edu suggest that awe plays a critical function in our lives. The positive experiences of awe potentially helped our ancestors survive uncertainty in their time. I’ll include the link to their research, as well as their suggestions for an Awe Walk and more in my blog post following this in the comments section of the feed.
When we look our beyond ourselves, opening our hearts and minds in wonder and awe we invite possibility, that which we cannot see in our present circumstances, and step forward in faith towards ongoing resurrection in our life’s journey. Like the spiritual practice of prayer, resurrection is a practice. Heschel reminds us, “We do not feel that we possess a magic power of speaking to the Infinite; we merely witness the wonder of prayer, the wonder of man addressing himself to the Eternal.” This address or prayer can come in many forms as we’ve discussed. Simply gazing with awe at the night’s starry sky, the sun setting over the trees in your neighborhood or the steam rising from your cup of morning coffee or tea can be an experience of wonder in Divine Presence. In prayers such as these, when words escape us, we experience Divine Love’s presence through wonder and awe and in this resurrection is possible.
I’d like to close today with a poem by Wendell Berry Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front. Please remember if you have any specific prayer requests during this time, feel free to post the first name only of the person for whom you would like us to pray in the comments section of this post and we will add them to our prayer list.
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
May your hearts and minds be open to experiencing wonder and awe through prayer and contemplation of the glorious and the mundane in your daily walk. Practice resurrection in the coming weeks and be formed and reformed by Divine Love’s invitation for loving, healing, and resurrecting relationship. Thank you for joining me for this short series on prayer. Whether online or in person, at whatever table we are gathered, it is my prayer that you will find nourishment and restoration. Peace be with you.
RESOURCES AND CITATIONS:
(Heschel, I Asked For Wonder, 21, 47)