“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?
Jean Wise says
Mari, so glad we have connected. Thank you for your story from your friend’s teaching.
mari mayborn says
For me being astonished by God just naturally leads me to praise and worship Him.
A friend was teaching about our worship of God in heaven, our praising Him with “Holy, holy, holy…is the Lord God Almighty…” He talked about how that it won’t seem like endless repetition, for when we see God we will be astonished, surprised, overcome by one new and greater revelation after another of who He is and we will offer up “Holy, holy, holy…”—the uncontainable expressions of our wonder, amazement and worship.
Wonderful blog, Jean. Thanks for tracking me down on twitter. Look forward to hearing more from you.
Kaye - SandwichINK for the Sandwich Generation says
Excellent food for thought! Our God is an awesome God – but the word awesome is overused by so many, including myself. It’s vital we step back and appreciate His true awesomeness with excited astonishment at all that He does! Thank you for a great reminder!
I’m trying to be better at giving the moment I’m in the attention it deserves … so many distractions in life, I need God’s help to do that. I’ve been convicted this week of a complaining spirit. I don’t do it verbally, but I complain in my thoughts and in my prayers. Maybe I wouldn’t complain so much if I looked at life with a little more wonder! Great post, Jeanie! Tweeting this! ;0)
Marti Pieper says
This post reminds me of the passage in Acts 2 where it says the believers devoted themselves to four things: teaching (the Word), fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. What happened when they did them? “Everyone was filled with awe. . .” (Acts 2:43, NIV). I think AWE is another synonym for amazement.
In the presence of our Savior, we should always stand amazed, astonished, and in awe. Thanks, Jean!
Jeanie, the first thing I think of is how children become excited easily and love so many things. Eyes of wonder! Another great post!
Oh, I’ve been reading so much of being thankful and learning to appreciate God’s hand in our lives, and being grateful for the blessings that come our way that I think God is constantly reminding me to do all these. And yet, there are days when I still fail to look at the world through the eyes of a saved and loved child. As Kristen has said, I have a long way to go but I am fully relying on God to continue bombarding me with these small reminders that I am truly blessed.
Thank you so much for this! God just used you today to reach out to me again. Tweeting this out for Tweet Me Tuesday!
Cyrene @ http://muminflipflops.com
Jean Wise says
good comment about if there is a difference between amazement and astonishment. I wonder if astonishment has an element of surprise to it; where amazement may be more worshipful. I will need to think about which word is most appropriate. Thanks for adding to the conversation.
You know-there are so many things that amaze me about this world (as “jaded” as I may seem sometimes), but is amazement the same as astonishment? I wonder if maybe they are similar, but on separate levels. Either way I have a long way to go before I’m where I need to be but with God’s help and guidance anything is possible!