Recovering Awe…

Posted by on Mar 5, 2023 in Blog | 8 comments

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In an age where fairly ordinary experiences are described as “awesome” (“awesome movie”, “awesome meal”) there is a risk that we trivialise awe away. To confuse the mildly pleasing with awe is an issue, especially when it leaves us unobservant of that which should truly leave us in silent, speechless wonder.

I’ve had a few awe struck moments in the last week, largely because I was able to get down south to the beachside resort of Dunsborough. There were times when I was on the beach alone, a vast ocean ahead of me. I had the strangest sensation of being caught up in something far, far bigger than me. Though just a tiny speck on an expansive landscape of sand and sea I felt fully alive, alert and part of something much greater. It wasn’t that I disappeared, but more that I could sense my role within something far (far) larger. And I knew with all of my being (not just my head) that God is, and that God loves, and that God is our beginning and God is our end. I was fully alive in the moment and God was in it. It was awesome.

The next day I was reading in the garden when I spotted a large black skink – a rather alarming looking member of the lizard family. Once reassured it was not a snake I calmed down and continued reading while the skink shuffled closer to me to find an optimal position to laze in the sun. Its offspring soon joined and there we were – me reading on the chair and just a few feet away a skink family lazing in the day’s warm rays. It was really rather wonderful, and there it was again, a sense of awe at the incredible beauty of the world God has made – a beauty I so often miss. This was underlined shortly after as a couple came wandering down the path in animated discussion with each other. The skinks quickly slithered back under cover and the couple shot past both me and the skinks without noticing any of us. I’ve been that couple so many times – rushing past and not noticing what was right before me.

Once they were gone the skinks wandered out again and sunned themselves a short distance from my feet. I felt God challenging me, “I know you – but I also know that skink and her offspring, and care for them greatly.” And there it was again, that sense of wonder that God has made such a wonderful world with such complexity and beauty. It was awesome.

Being on holiday I had a little more time to dive into scripture. I was meditating on the closing chapters of Mark’s Gospel. I got to reflect on Mk 16:3 where the women going to the tomb of Jesus ask, “Who will roll away the stone for us…” And there it was – a deep sense that like those women I worry about the wrong things… about how to roll away a stone that when I get there will already be rolled away. And I was caught up in awe – the awe of knowing that God is and has everything that matters covered. I reflected on an old saying I heard many years ago, “I know nothing about tomorrow except that God’s love will rise before the sun.” Now that is truly awesome – and it is truly true.

As always, nice chatting…

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  1. Comment *So lovely Brian. I can picture you there. The beach is my happy place .
    Liked the comment about the couple.
    Open our eyes Lord.

  2. Comment *yes I felt the same at Bunker Bay Beach recently! Awesome reflection as usual..

  3. Thanks, Brian. Resonate strongly with this. What helps us (other than getting away) to slow down and notice, to be more present to life today? Do our spiritual practices help?

    • Hi Paul. Yes, I think they do – and carving out time for them is important. Recently I have started getting up a little earlier each day to make sure I have a reasonable amount of time for quiet, and prayer and noticing. I’m not naturally a morning person, but I’m finding it really worthwhile.

  4. You make a good point, Brian. When we lived in B.C. the word awesome was used for so much it meant nothing. I have wondered if it is an indication of what we have also done in our attitude and use of the word towards God and his works. We don’t seem to have the awe and reverence for his majesty and omniscience, his magnificence, grandeur and power. Somehow we have made his work among us ordinary and lost our wonder.

    • Sadly I think you are right Ruth. The Bibles opening words are “In the beginning God created…” It was God who created, not us, and when we don’t start with that we take far too much for granted.

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