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Awe and Amazement
Awe and Amazement

Awe and Amazement: Weekly Summary

Saturday, December 9, 2023

I believe the basic, primal, foundational religious intuition is a moment of awe and wonder.
—Richard Rohr

Moments of awe and wonder are the only solid foundation for the entire religious instinct and journey.
—Richard Rohr

The contemplative stance that flows out of radical amazement catches us up in love—the Love that is the Creator of all that is, the Holy Mystery that never ceases to amaze, never ceases to lavish love in us, on us, around us.
—Judy Cannato

Awe is more than an emotion; it is a way of understanding, insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe.
—Abraham Joshua Heschel

Wonder requires a person not to forget themselves but to feel themselves so acutely that their connectedness to every created thing comes into focus. In sacred awe, we are a part of the story.
—Cole Arthur Riley

To be alive is to look up at the stars on a dark night and to feel the beyond-words awe of space in its vastness. To be alive is to look down from a mountaintop on a bright, clear day and to feel the wonder that can only be expressed in “oh” or “wow” or maybe “hallelujah.”
—Brian McLaren                        

Week Forty-Nine Practice

A Slice of Beauty

Rabbi Hara Person shares a practice that helped rekindle her connection to beauty, gratitude, and the Divine:

Some years back I hit a skid in my personal life. Though I knew objectively that I had much to be grateful for, it was hard to acknowledge a sense of gratitude. It was difficult to notice the positive that was out there beyond the slog of getting through every day. But now and then, I’d feel the impulse to take out my phone and capture a slice of beauty. These fleeting glimpses of splendor broke through my horizon of pain and lifted me up….

These photos, taken on my way to the gym in the morning as the light was coming up over the F train overpass, or as the setting sun glinted through the trees above the electric wires at the end of the day … were about stumbling upon unexpected splendor, savoring random moments of grace in the midst of an overfilled, overcomplicated life. These were moments to stop and actually see the wonder around me despite the swirl of so much else going on, time to stop and breathe and slow down….

In teaching that we are to say one hundred blessings a day, the Talmud encourages us to take notice and not simply lurch unseeingly through our days…. Bringing photography back into my life was a visual version of this urging to truly perceive and experience the beauty of the world and not take any of it for granted…. Making these small photos on my phone … helped me find my way back to gratitude and a connection to God….

These photos have become part of a spiritual practice that grounds me and reminds me that not all is difficult, not all is complicated—that joy and amazement exist—if I take a moment to look.


Hara E. Person, “Experiencing God While Making (Jewish) Art: Glimpses of Splendor,” in Because My Soul Longs for You: Integrating Theology into Our Lives, ed. Edwin C. Goldberg and Elaine S. Zecher (New York: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 2021), 53, 54, 55.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Madison Frambes, Untitled 4, 1, and 7 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

When we are in awe, there are no deeds to be done or words to be said; a simple, ecstatic surrender.

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