Wednesday evening was awesome. I was at the office late. I was standing on my little back porch listening to nature. Creation was singing praises to God. Then I saw a sight I haven’t seen in years. Under the big tree in the office yard fireflies were lighting up. Fireflies were once everywhere. Now they seem to be a rare sight. I stood in silence, watching and listening. It was a transcendent moment a moment of wonder and awe. In a moment of time I was taken back to childhood and forward to the hope that is in Christ.
I can’t transport you into that moment, because I had it very much alone, but I was not alone.
Experiences of wonder and awe break up your routine.
George Carlin once made this comment on why he had such a congenital distrust of religious neophytes who claim to be “born again”: “They talk too much, pure and simple! When I was born, I was so stunned that I couldn’t speak for two years! If someone has a religious experience and shuts up for a couple of years, I will take him seriously.”
Wonder and awe stun and mute our spontaneous energies. They paralyze us so that we become reflective by conscription.
Amazement does the opposite. Amazement opens up the conduit to our emotions and usually to our mouths. When your friend starts, “we had the most amazing vacation.” Don’t you catch your breath because you are about to be assaulted with a verbal travel journal? Of course to go with the narration, pictures will be thrust upon you. Wonder and awe are spiritual and deep, amazement is visceral and shallow.
I take you to the Christmas stories in Luke. There are angels busy giving birth announcements. Zechariah the old man gets one and he is amazed. Zechariah, knowing about biological impossibilities voices appropriate questions, and Gabriel, seemingly unhappy with his questions, mutes him for nine months.
A short time later, same angel goes to the virgin Mary, with her birth announcement. She certainly knows about biological impossibilities, but she says nothing. She ponders the angel’s words in her heart. She is filled with wonder and awe by this news. Her wonder and awe keep her silent.
Wonder and awe are the biblical antithesis to amazement.
It is the difference between taking your breath away and taking your words away.
Are wonder and awe a part of your daily experience? When you listen to the voice of creation as the sun is setting? When you hear divine music? When you are touched by the love of another? When you see an American flag waving?
Where do you find wonder and awe? What takes your words away?