Have you ever sat in wonder at a full moon in the midnight sky? Have you ever had an experience of awe that left you speechless, humbled, inspired?
In 1989, I was a student travelling in Vienna with my professor. It was December and it was bitterly cold. Covered in every layer we could find from our small suitcases, we drifted in and out of the stalls at the Christmas Market, marveling at the beautiful treasures and ornaments that surrounded us. The smell of roasted chestnuts meandered up and down the winsome streets.
Every once in a while, we would stop in a café, to get a coffee and warm our hands as best we could. The cathedrals, museums, operas were mesmerizing in their ability to captivate and enliven the unguarded and welcoming souls.
Early Sunday morning, after we savored our rolls and sipped our chocolate, we walked to a nearby cathedral. A small cathedral – not the majestic St. Stephen’s Cathedral. No, this one was situated in the shadows of St. Stephens. Few tourists. Mostly locals.
It had a cavernous and regal beauty. Stone walls, stone pews, stone altar. The stained glass windows balanced with their brilliance, the severe, dull edges that surrounded us.
As we entered, and found a vacant seat, I noticed that it was no warmer inside this building than it was on the street. I could see my breath. There was no heat and yet, the mass was completely packed.
The music, a Schubert mass, was billowing from the orchestra in the balcony overhead. It was tender. It was powerful. Serene. Majestic. Holy.
The priests filed in, waving incense, back and forth, as they offered the liturgy in Latin.
I am a born and bred Southern Baptist at heart, now a hand-raising, worship-loving non-denominational girl. But in that moment, as I sat shivering in my stone pew, listening to a language I did not know, listening to this music descend as if from heaven and color every wall and soul with joy and anguish, with wonder and reverence, tears began to stream down my face.
Something happened. I was captured by awe. I saw God. I felt Him. I was moved by Him. It was a supernatural gift that drew me closer to Him. That moment cemented my fierce and desperate need for Him.
Moments of awe and wonder don’t always come in large, dramatic ways. We can be undone by the miracle of holding a newborn baby, of wandering aimlessly through a meadow, of becoming lost in the beauty of an ocean sunset.
We were not meant to merely exist in the mundane. Scriptures states that creation sings His praise. (Rev 19:1-8, ESV) We were meant to experience. We were meant to thrive. To drink it all in. To capture moments of the Divine within the dull and ordinary moments of the day. To embrace the gift of being touched by God.
Isn’t that what awe is?
There are four ways we can create a life of awe and wonder.
We spend our days being distracted, pre-occupied. We are attached to gadgets and tend to see only that which is on a screen. We are so busy with what’s right in front of us, that we miss the wonder of what’s on display all around us.
Sometimes I wonder how much of life we actually miss because we are looking down? Busy with work. Consumed with our children. Content to be filled by a game, a television show, or perhaps a conversation with someone we may or may not know on Facebook.
Put the gadgets down. Look up. Soak it all in. Enjoy the moment that God created just for you. Be mesmerized by it. Delight in it.
We hear, but are we really listening? We move through our days, chained to deadlines, dragged along by duties. Life becomes mere white noise, a soundtrack of mere nothingness.
Stop. Actually turn on your ears. Lean in. Listen for the sounds around you. Listen for the music of life that anchors us, connects us to something human, perhaps something divine.
We have become masters at distance. We are well-versed in the skill of subtle disconnect. We keep ourselves safe from being too close. From being hurt. Bruised. As long as everything stays in its place and is ordered just the way we like it, we are okay.
Reach out. Touch what is around you. Actually feel it. Feel the textures and shapes. Feel the coolness of the grass between your toes as you run barefoot through your backyard. Feel the softness of a newborn baby’s skin as you caress their tiny cheeks and ears and finger and toes. Feel the rhythms of your favorite music reverberate against your soul. Feel it wash over you. Feel it move you deep inside you. Allow yourself to be undone. Linger. Memorize. Rejoice.
We want to reduce the heavens to something small, contained, observable. We want to dismiss God as unscientific, as outdated, unsophisticated. We long to relegate the divine to a corner in the basement, where we don’t have to be bothered with things that could shake the foundation of our existence.
If you want to experience a life of awe and wonder, spread your arms open wide and believe. Believe in the majesty of a God who painted every flower and field with watercolor perfection. Who designed the human body with such precision and brilliance, that science cannot even fully fathom. Who created a way for us broken, condemned, shameful sinners to be reconciled to Him through Jesus’ compassionate cross.
Dance into all that is unknown and believe. Open your heart. Celebrate. Give thanks.
'Dance into all that is unknown and believe. Open your heart. Celebrate. Give thanks.'Click To Tweet
Moments of awe and wonder catch us unaware. They capture us. They connect us to God. They unite us together with humanity.
Moments of awe and wonder catch us unaware. They capture us. They connect us to God. They unite us together with humanity.Click To Tweet
Be moved today. Be inspired.
How are you creating a life of awe and wonder?
Are you too busy to notice moments where you are touched by God?
Look up. Hear. Feel. Believe!
In-text photos courtesy of Patrick Berger : https://www.facebook.com/patrick.berger.7583?fref=ts