Awe and Gratitude

Lughnasa and the Moon of the First Harvest

I have reimagined faith. At least for me. Didn’t realize I’d done it until I began work on answering my friend’s question about joy in being. (see post for Aug. 2). And did it long ago. It was my philosophical/theological bent that kept me from seeing it. Ironic, eh?

Awe is a key component. Awakening awe. Awe not confined to the Grand Canyon or birth or pretty flowers or innocence. Awe seen in the magic of decay, decomposition. Awe for the water coming from the shower, pumped up from fractured granite beneath our land. Awe for the skills of the snow plow drivers who keep Black Mountain Drive clear. Awe for the gradual changing of seasons, of plant life’s reaction to the subtle changes, of animals dancing to the rhythm of the change. Awe for the years of intimacy and love with Kate, with Joseph, with SeoAh, with Ruth and Gabe, with Jon. Awe for friends who reach across cyberspace. Awe for inventors of concrete. For stonemasons. For quilting. For the CyberKnife. For the kindness of strangers.

Why is awe critical? Because it answers the implicit question in this line from Emerson’s introduction to his essay, Nature: “Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us?” Yes. Yes. Yes. But. How do we find revelation? Do we need gold tablets like Joseph Smith? Do we need special access to “G-d?” Do we need an angel whispering in our ear?

Downwind from the Flowers (thanks Tom and Roxann)

No. And we never have. Awe is the answer. It peels back the mundane layer from things simple and complex. When we experience awe, we see into the world and our part in it. This peeling back removes the false accretions our hurry and our anxiety and our fear have laid over the sacred in the ordinary. We can see the universe emerging through that compost pile, in that child’s laugh, in that gas flame on our stove.

Awe leads us to the altar of gratitude where we kneel in thanks for all these, our many gifts. Gratitude is a prayer lifted up when our hearts find the soul in the other. Namaste. Awe opens the door. Gratitude shows we have walked through the door to what the Celts called The Otherworld.

Elk image captured yesterday on Conifer Mountain

The Otherworld is not far away. It is not in a hoped for future or a golden past. It is now, here. Right there. Look at your hand. Touch thumb to fingers. Awe. Evolution of the prehensile thumb. Breathe. Awe. We can take oxygen from the air to fuel our bodies. Eat. Awe. We can transform, transubstantiate, carrots and lettuce and a rib eye and a potato and watermelon and popcorn into a human. Walk. Awe. Sleep. Awe.

Do we need to write a new bible to let others know? No. Our reimagining responds to Emerson again: “…why should we grope among the dry bones of the past, or put the living generation into masquerade out of its faded wardrobe?”

Awe and gratitude. Revelation and grace here and now.