Spiritual journey: Awe

On the first Thursday of each month I write with fellow sojourners about our spiritual journeys. Margaret Simon leads the way on this first Thursday of 2022 with reflections on “one little word,” the writer-tradition of choosing a focus word for the year (thank you for hosting, Margaret).

This is the first time I have carried a word over from one year to the next.

Last year awe chose me by appearing in a quote on my planner when I had pretty much decided I wouldn’t choose a word. Perhaps the pandemic had left me jaded. Or simply too bone-tired to care. Nevertheless, there it was, an invitation to seek awe.

I accepted.

I never imagined all the awe that awaited in 2021.

The first grandchild was born into our family. Her big sister came to us by marriage at age three. She had been wishing for a little sister.

God is especially near to children.

Awe.

Baby Micah looks at me with the very eyes, from the very face, of my firstborn son. My husband and I wept at first sight of her.

Awe.

We lost one of our dearest friends in 2021. His last words to me were in response to one of my posts on awe: You are awesome in every way. Years ago he played Santa Claus at church for the children, when my oldest (the current new dad) was three. Nobody loved Christmas better; we spent every Christmas Eve together when my children were growing up.

He’s attained Heaven now. My youngest son, who’s become a funeral director apprentice, helped prepare his body for burial.

A symmetry, a grace.

Awe.

As the year ended last week, my family rescued a robin caught in the grille of a car after a trip down the interstate (read about it here if you like: The Robin). I couldn’t believe it was alive, that we were able to extricate it, or that it was soon hopping around my backyard eating worms in the unseasonably warm December.

Awe.

It chose me in 2021.

I am choosing it for 2022.

If you search the Internet for the benefits of awe, you will find lots of information: Awe reminds us that we are small parts of something vast and that’s good for us. It makes us care more for one another. It makes us healthier, calmer, more focused, more humble, less concerned for material things.

Spend time in nature and you’ll experience awe. Everything is connected, everything. I have seen a shy beige earth snake in the flowerbed glowing with bioluminescence. I have seen a deer running alongside dogs in a field, playing.

Spend time with children and you’ll experience awe. In the way that they see the world. In the way that they trust. And laugh. And dance. And sing. And love. Jesus said: I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children (Matthew 11:25, ESV).

Write, and you will experience awe. Yesterday I wrote on an unusual paraphrase of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30: “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” That line may stay with me forever. There is a flow, a pattern, a choreography to grace. As there is to the stars. Something too beautiful for words.

To realize that one is the recipient of God’s grace is awe. That He means for us to be free and not burdened is awe. That we exist at all, on this blue planet in the vast universe, is awe. That he wants us to learn of him is awe. That we play our short part in an ongoing story of humanity, forgiveness, redemption, and incomparable love, is awe. To know that unseen angels surround us is awe.

I know many stories like the one my grandmother told me, how people in farm communities nearly a century ago used to take turns sitting with someone who was sick and dying. It was Grandma’s turn to sit with the mother of her friend, Amanda. The old woman had been unresponsive for days, when all of a sudden, she sat up. Her face shone; she looked young again. She began to laugh: “Can you see them? Can you see them?”

She died that day. My grandmother never forgot the awe.

When it comes to spiritual journeys, be sure to invite it.

It is the fuel of eternity.

*******

also shared on SOS-Sharing Our Stories: Magic in a Blog, with special thanks to Ruth for the “unforced rhythms of grace” inspiration.

x

25 thoughts on “Spiritual journey: Awe

  1. A moment of awe happened for me earlier this week when I witnessed a monarch emerging right in my own kitchen. Nature is full of awe. We are privileged to live surrounded by children. The other night on Facetime, my granddaughter Stella was so excited to see me. At 13 months she knows my face and loves me unconditionally. I nearly cried in awe. Thanks for sharing this word and your awesomeness.

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  2. Fran: This is beautiful, as always. Yes, I share your awe at the love of grandchildren, the beauty of nature, the mystery of the cosmos. What a wonderful word. I felt it most recently as I gathered with family. Such love and tenderness. I look forward to more awesome and awe-filled posts from you.

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  3. What a beautiful and spirit-filled word, awe is. I love that it chose you and you choose it. The conversation between you and awe is already producing fruit. Love this post and the faith you share. Thank you!

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  4. I have never thought about carrying a word over until this year. I keep waiting for my OLW to find me, but so far it’s an old word that keeps calling..maybe I need to go with it.

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    • If the old word is calling…maybe respond! How intriguing. I was really done with the OLW at the beginning of last year. I thought I might never pick one again. But then… the new year came, I turned a page in my planner, and there was the quote on awe…it really did come after me, and now I cannot let it go!

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  5. I am mesmerized by the word “awe” and all the examples you have shared here. I am partial to “God is especially near to children” – I have so many treasured insights and understandings from the littlest ones amongst us.

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  6. What a pleasure to read your awe-filled post and remembrances of awe surrounding you this past year. I love that it chose you last year and that you’re choosing it this year.
    My mother often told the story of her sister’s passing and how my aunt saw others in the room. I believe they are there, filled with awe and beckoning to us as we pass from this life into eternity.
    Looking forward to following your awe-filled posts!

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  7. Fran, I love how you captured your moments of awe from last year; it explains why you almost had to continue it into the next. People don’t pause enough to be awed, I think; perhaps we would all be better off if they–we– did. Awe sits close to gratitude, don’t you think? It’s hard to be in awe of something wonderful and not feel thankful for the experience. Your moments of awe are natural, cyclical, unforced–there is your rhythm of grace. I am grateful for the pause your writing brings to me this morning, for catching a bit of the awe you experienced and shared with us.

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  8. Fran, this weekend was my granddaughter’s 2nd birthday and the quote, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” is with me now in the silence of morning time. I see awe in her smile, in the quiet way that she approaches me and know that the Lord is blessing her. She started early intervention for speech. While that was a difficult concept for my daughter, there is an awe about this child that everyone recognizes. Your presence in our SJT family is a mighty hand of grace. You see the world in spiritual terms and this is what I hope the Lord has in store for my little Aurora. May awe continue to bring you new revelations to share with us so we can all grow in grace. Peace to you as you approach a deeper appreciation of all the world offers under the guidance of Jesus’ awe.

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    • I cannot believe Aurora is already two, Carol! I have no doubt that the Lord’s grace will work in and though her – awe in the making, already. Thank you for your words. It’s a joy to be a fellow traveler in our SJT group. There’s a collective spiritual strength, for sure, and I am deeply grateful for it. Will continue to pray for precious Aurora – we shall see what He will do.

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