“It’s possible that our primary role as humans is that of celebration. We have this destiny – and even duty – to become astonished by the universe!”—Physicist Brian Swimme.
Pegge Bernecker’s words in the current issue of Listen caused me to pause and think about the role of astonishment and wonder in my life. She writes:
“Why would it be valuable to cultivate the contemplative practice of astonishment? My intuition and experience inform me that our willingness to become astonished by someone or something develops compassion, integrity, kindness, creative action, forgiveness, and a heightened ability to be fully human, fully alive. I learn—maybe you do too—that when we become astonished, we:
· Let go of preconceived ideas and patterns of thinking
· Allow the present moment to interrupt the past and future
· Engage our senses
· Nurture alertness
· Trust unknown possibility, mystery
· Grow laughter and delight
· Discover unimaginable reality
· Risk forgiveness, transformation
· Dare to be brave
· Become healers and healed, joyful
· Inspire gratefulness”
The practice of astonishment is a spiritual habit I want to cultivate. I feel God is inviting me to look with new eyes upon my world, my circumstances, and my everyday ordinariness. I thirst to capture a glimpse of God in all things.
How will I do this? First take my desire to God in prayer. Secondly, take a moment each day to pause and reflect upon my surroundings with gratitude. And last, to really pay attention to whoever is right in front of me.
As I waited last week in a congested busy hotel lobby, I observed a hotel worker asking a gentleman if she could help him. She never took her eyes off his face as she intentionally focused only on him while hundreds of people hurried past her in the chaos of that central place. I marveled at her ability not to be distracted by the surrounding noise and movements. She paid attention to him.
I think if I could be fully attuned to the person I am with and awake to the emotions of whatever circumstance I find myself in, I would be astonished.
Amidst the world’s noise, the busyness of multitasking, and the pressures of life, my senses have grown dull. I don’t think this is God’s intention for us to live this way.
How much more alive it would feel to live with a sense of astonishment! And as Swimme said in the opening quote, “We have this destiny – and even duty – to become astonished by the universe!”
How do you practice astonishment in your life?