Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter 4 Awe

I was chatting with my friend, Misha, today and she mentioned the previous blog post, said she felt similarly about the shades of difference between joy and delight. She dropped this in one of her replies:

Joy, I think, is perhaps something more akin to the Buddhist practice of "Joyfully participating in the sorrows of the world." Joy isn't happiness. That's the feeling I get. Delight and happiness feel related. Joy feels like a state of being: stable, long term, wise. Maybe Joy and Awe are more on the same spectrum...

Little did she know that "awe" was on my radar (more literally, my spreadsheet where I've made a list of words to get me through the 50 days) for an Easter blog post. I immediately said I might be quoting her, and so I have.  

What I wouldn't have said on my own are her descriptors, "stable, long term, wise." Yes to those. 

Misha and I often talk about the need for awe in our lives, how we don't now how to live without cultivating that relationship with the world around us. What's more, it feels like the sort of thing that most anyone, of any religion or none, might be able to experience. 

A thunderstorm. A clear, star-filled night in a place without light pollution. Pretty much any living, growing thing. So many things are too big to understand, even if our science books can explain them. 

In fact, I hope you can can read a science book and feel awe at what surrounds us. Last I checked, science still didn't have a real good explanation for why life happens, why particular combinations of chemicals and light and minerals spark into living things---much less sentient things! Science can talk about life as something that exists and here's what we know about what sustains it, what kills it, and how it reproduces---but not why life happens at all.

How awesome is that?

I particularly love that Misha uses the word "wise." I think she is right that there is wisdom in awe. Holy Wisdom draws our attention to the amazing things that are too much to comprehend. Confronted with things we don't understand, we are wise to step back in wonder. 

For some, that step back leads to worship, songs of praise, ecstatic dances, quiet rapture. 

Easter is, if nothing else, a time for awe. The powers of the world do not have final say over our being. Suffering is not the whole of our existence. Love is stronger than death. 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, amen.

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