Shekinah Glory

Spring Musings
April 30, 2008, 1:09 pm
Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Grace, Inspiration, Jesus, Prayer, Religion, Spirituality

What is it that holds us rapt in utter incoherence at the first cresting colors from our star, the sun, as it begins its ascent into our morning sky? As we sit in a field or shoreline struck by the unembarrassing abundance of hues and blending from nature’s palate that streak across that empty canvas we know there is no way to completely describe its beauty. What about the descent of this sun as it makes its final apparition before darkness overtakes the earth? It is full of colors that burst first in brilliant light and then fade into brown, orange and purples only to fade into what is left of the day. Do we feel the same when we stand in front of a magnificent piece of art, convinced that this artist has captured a shard of something eternal? Do we give ourselves permission in such moments to let our pulse rate increase and stop to catch our breath? When we stand, clapping as the choir reaches new heights in shouting, singing and swaying praise to the divine do we somehow feel ushered into a sacred space where our emotions are reaching beyond our physical realm? Have we stood in the delivery room eyes filled with uncontrollable tears holding a life that is gasping and crying its first breaths of life outside a womb? Have we stood at the edge of the grave peering in on an experience that we cannot share with someone we so deeply love and feel that the chasm between despair and sadness is too far for any mortal to cross?

What exactly are awe and wonder? Are these merely the feelings that we have when we have reached the highest point of the rollercoaster and are about to drop? Are they something that can sustain us in the midst of our lives? Why is it something neglected in religious circles? Is it frivolous and non-productive in a society that rewards achievement and merit? Is it even possible to define and write about with any intelligence?

Wonder, awe and our connection to something beyond our own finitude has been one focus of the ancient Judeo and Christian texts of scripture, yet for some reason they are not a part of our vocabulary when talking about our worship, theology, creeds, beliefs or sel- care. Why is this too often the case? Should they merely to be relegated to the poets and writers of song? Have we become so separated from creation that we cannot step back long enough to be caught surprised by our place in the midst of the cosmos’ interplay? When we allow ourselves to be overcome with awe and wonder we are simultaneously struck by our small space in a much grander scheme and by a sense of gratitude for being entrusted with the enjoyment of all that surrounds us.

How do we proceed in the study of an emotion that cannot be manufactured, but catches us by surprise and holds us spellbound? We must go to the sources that under gird our deepest held belief that wonder and awe are important experiences. We must also realize that they contribute to our lasting health, wholeness and connection to the divine. We must jump into those experiences that fill us with wonder and attempt to describe them from the inside out. Then we can proceed to discern their broader impact upon our life and death in our worlds. It is my suspicion that this will cause us to worship the one who created everything.


2 Comments so far
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And you do not understand Levinas. I think this is one of the most beautifully illustrated examples of encountering the other.
Wonder and awe move us into eternal musings of divine awakenings. We can taste it and yet we are unable to share with precision the encounter. Life struggles to share, expand, or comprehend the beauty that is delivered in this moment…this is the nuni de described in Philemon’s return of Onesimus.
So wonders I.

Comment by ryan

I hate to admit that I have never actually read Levinas. I have bought his books for Carol as gifts. Yet, Carol has explained him many times.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

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