“Even a stone, and more easily a flower or a bird, could show you the way back to God, to the Source, to yourself. When you look at it or hold it & let it be without imposing a word of mental label on it, a sense of awe, of wonder, arises within you. Its essence silently communicates itself to you and reflects your own essence back to you.” ― Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
A “sense of awe?” What is that; to me? Well, there’s footage online of Helen Keller speaking. There are videos of crying babies fitted with hearing aids, who are videotaped hearing their mothers’ voices for the first time. Those are awesome things… And oh; I paused yesterday, to wonder at the ice on a window. It was an ordinary window inside of a garage stacked with firewood. The six-paned window was dressed with a crisp white eyelet lace curtain. I didn’t have my phone with me to take a picture; but the pattern on each square of windowpane looked something like this: (an image I found online at http://www.all-hd-wallpapers.com/search-result-for-pattern/pag-18 :
This winter, here in New England, we’ve had several snow events, which have been named as follows: Ariana, Blake, Colbie, Darius, and I hear Ellie is coming along this weekend. I look sometimes at the big yellow vehicles parked in shopping center parking lots beside mountains of dirt speckled snow, and I think in awe,
“All this has fallen from the sky?”
How wondrous that seems. And we throw down sand and chemical concoctions like salt; we scurry about with our shovels, snow-blowers, dump-trucks, roof rakes, front end loaders and graders… moving, melting, heaping the snow into manageable piles. There’s an awe-inducing beauty in a snowstorm; but I’m sure you’d agree that that sense of wonder and tranquility of snow can best be appreciated on the business end of a steaming mug of whipped cream-covered hot chocolate inside a warm cozy dwelling.
It’s from that perspective that I count my blessings.
I am warm.
I have the food I need.
All is good; so snow is pretty.
Did you know that there are physical health benefits to the “sensation of awe” that we feel from time to time? It’s interesting but also weird to think that people are actually doing studies on this. It should be a given that awe inspiring events are good for one’s well being. That said, it is stated on http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-awe-stops-the-clock/ , that
“awe research is beginning to come into its own” and “psychologists are now experimenting in domains formerly left to clergy, clinicians, and artists…”
So… scientists are beginning to study the effects of “awe and wonderment” on the human psyche. According to the info on http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2014-6-november-december/feature/science-awe , researchers have formally concluded that,
“when people encounter a vast and unexpected stimulus, something that makes them feel small and forces them to revise their mental models of what’s possible in the world, people act more generously and ethically. They think more critically when encountering persuasive stimuli, like arguments or advertisements, and often feel a deeper connection to others and the world in general. Awe prompts people to redirect concern away from the self and toward everything else. And about three-quarters of the time, this awe is elicited by nature.”
To that I say, well duh.
Simple pleasures…If there can be a pride of lions, a murder of crows, a crash of rhinos, a roll of armadillos, a bed of clams, a bloat of hippos, and a murmuration (LOVELY word!!!) of starlings, then what shall I call this menagerie of crane game prizes that have taken up residence on my shelf?
Some backstory: My first experience with a claw game was at a local carnival when I was 7 years old. I inserted many coins and played countless lip-biting determined games before I got that claw to drop a prize into the chute. What did I win? A 4 inch high purple plastic cat, sitting pretty with sparkling green jewels for eyes. How I treasured that toy! Nowadays I enjoy throwing away a few coins (or even dollars) to try my skill at modern day claw games. If it’s something I’ve won that has caught my fancy, I put it on my shelf. (See picture above). Sometimes I toss one of my prizes to the dog and she rips the stuffing out of it gleefully for about ten minutes and then falls asleep, weary from chewing the stuffing out of her prey. There are polyester fluff balls and stuffed animal hides underfoot here as I type; but to answer the question I pondered in the previous paragraph, I shall name my menagerie of game prizes-
a “polyopia” of prizes.
Polyopia is the joining of the words polyester and cornucopia.
The view from my window just now:
I like the crisscross of the screen against the view- a definitive group of lines separating me from outside. I’m warm in here.
I was feeling pretty lousy yesterday (mentally, physically, spiritually). So seeing the ice patterns, or I should say pausing myself long enough to be in appreciation of them, was something I am glad I did. I went back to the window four hours after I’d seen the swirly ice patterns… to take a picture- but alas, the patterns had melted by then. They were gone from the window. It is a restorative type of fuel, to actively be in wonder of simple things when inside you feel curmudgeonly. It is not always important to catalogue these moments in pictures because they are always there if I purposefully store them in my head.
From my beloved 1993 book “Being Home,” by Norris and Sibley, I leave you with this excerpt:
Climbing The Threshold
Many times today I will cross over a threshold.
I hope I will catch a few of those times.
I need to remember that my life is, in fact,
a continuous series of thresholds
from one moment to the next,
from one thought to the next, from one action to the next.
Help me appreciate how awesome this is.
How many are the chances to really be alive…
To be aware of the enormous dimension
we live within.
On the threshold the entire past
and the endless future
rush to meet one another.
They take hold of each other and laugh.
They are happy to discover themselves
in the awareness of a human creature.
On the threshold the present breaks all boundaries.
It is a convergence,
a fellowship with all time and space.
We find YOU there.
And we are found by You there.
Help me cross into the present moment—
into wonder, into Your grace-
that “now-place,” where we all are
unfolding as Your life moment by moment.
Let me live on the threshold as threshold.