In my blog Supplies on the Journey Part I, “Openness” was the first supply or disposition. It is an important pillar for all the other supplies.
Wakefulness was the attitude covered in the last blog. Being open and awake can result in two partners, wonder and awe, which are the themes for this blog.
When we remain open and awake to wonder, we can be awestruck just as the disciples at the Transfiguration.
In her book Traits of a Healthy Spirituality, Sister Melannie Svoboda, SND states, “genuine wonder can fascinate us and spur us on to further investigation. Wonder encourages us to stand humbly before the unfathomable mysteries of human life, trusting that, in them, we encounter God” (p.16).
“Awe” can be described as an “aha” God moment- majestic, breathtaking, astonishing, amazing, that which inspires reverence, and respect.
In Hebrew the word translated into “awe” is yirah. Often, it is translated as fear of the Lord, which can mean reverence, respect.
In Greek there are several words and meanings for awe- terror, fear, reverence, respect, amazement.
The narrative in Exodus chapter 3 of Moses and the burning bush is an example of someone’s wonderment and curiosity leading to an encounter with the holy.
Moses was at work in Midian tending the sheep when he saw at a distance a bush burning. It was not the fact that the bush was burning, for it was not unusual for a bush to be burning in the area. What was astonishing? The bush was not consumed by the fire. Moses saw a wonder happening to the bush. His curiosity was heightened so he went to investigate this phenomenon. And behold! It was an “awe” encounter with the holy. A voice from the bush on fire says, “[Moses] remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).
This phenomenon enticed Moses to explore the burning bush, and he stood in awe at what was happening as he hears the voice of God from the bush.
There are over 125 usages of wonder and awe or their equivalent words in the Bible. Below are four passages.
Psalm 65:9 or verse 8 in some translations. “Distance peoples stand in awe of your marvels.”
Acts 3:10: Peter healed the crippled beggar and the people “were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened.”
Acts 2:43: “Awe came upon everyone at the many ways signs and wonders done through the apostles.”
Luke 5:26: Healing of the Paralytic: “Then astonishment seized them all and all glorified God, and struck with awe they said ‘We have seen incredible things today’.”
Stay open and awake so you can experience wonder and awe.
Albert Einstein writes, “He [One] who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead.”
• Reflect upon a moment of wonder and awe in your own life. Maybe it was the birth of a child; maybe a sunset or sunrise.
• Describe the feelings you had at the time.
By Sister Marie Leonard, OSB
Unless otherwise noted, scripture quotations are from The New American Bible, revised edition, © 2010.