Your recommended daily allowance of awe
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I recently heard several speakers on spirituality and religion, including a Jewish rabbi, a New Age guru, and a Christian minister. They all talked of the need for a greater sense of awe in our lives. The beauty of nature and the intricacy of what is observable under a microscope, they said, are examples of what should inspire such wonder in us.Skip to next paragraph
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This plea for wonderment gives grateful credit to a supreme creator.
I feel that awe is indeed good and natural and beneficial. And that we deserve to feel it. Beautiful scenes in nature often inspire it in me, as do art and science. And I've found that nature, art, and science touch my heart more deeply when I recognize them as beautiful indications of a spiritual reality, of creation being governed by an infinitely good intelligence.
One author considered the significance of nature in this way: "Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, - all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect" (Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, writing in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 240).
In line with this, I have found something remarkable to be true. A sense of wonder at something good or beautiful can rise to become an actual prayer. A prayer that glimpses in everyone, everything, that true and perfect essence - "the spiritual intelligence they reflect." This is a sense of awe that can heal.
Take the night when I sat down to pray. By pray, I mean I had the intention of understanding God a little better. I wasn't thinking of my own needs just then - but at the time I was faced with an insurmountable debt.
My prayer led me to glimpse rather distinctly something of the fact that God, the divine Spirit, is absolutely All. I can genuinely say about that night, as the Scriptures record Job telling the Lord, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee" (Job 42:5). I got beyond a merely intellectual acceptance of God's existence; I found a spiritual consciousness of the creator's reality, and of the consequent totality of divine good.
God was so real, so close! I was filled with awe. I went to sleep with it, and got up feeling a tremendous sense of well-being.
That day, in a very unexpected way, I received a sizable amount of money from my employer. It covered my debts. And while they've long since been paid, the profound wonder I felt from the evening before has left an indelible mark on my memory.
That kind of holy awe at God's goodness can also bring healing to sickness and disease. It can contribute to restoring harmony in any bad circumstance.
The Bible - including the Gospels, which relate the life of Jesus - tells of many instances of recovery from physical ills and moral failings and poverty that came through the spiritual understanding that prayer brings. It's clear that a sense of wonder at the divine presence and power was involved with many of these healings. When Jesus cured a man of palsy, for instance, the man returned home "glorifying God" (Luke 5:25). When the disciples Peter and John healed a man of congenital lameness, he was right away "walking, and leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3:8).
What about being over-awed? That is, being struck by the magnitude of a personal problem or global crisis? Does that undermine your confidence in God's ability to help? It doesn't need to. The spiritual truth is still that God is infinitely, all-powerfully good, and that the divine creation reflects God's goodness. We are each in that perfect creation.
To the degree that we lose the feeling of being impressed by trouble, it will be resolved. Recognizing and acknowledging the wonder of God, we are better equipped to deal with our problems. They begin looming less solidly. This fading away of apparently solid difficulties is natural when we get awesome glimpses of how God made things to be.
You can read in-depth articles about God's power in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.