Apr 27 2015

May Theme: Awe and Wonder

Published by at 6:29 pm under Minister's Musings

Awe and Wonder in the Everyday:

Join Us for 31 Days of Noticing, Creating, and Posting!

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

 Are you the kind of person for whom “Awe and Wonder”—May’s theme—seem extraordinary, something you experience only on rare occasions when the immensity of the universe or the miracle of life takes your breath away?

Or are you the kind of person who experiences a sense of amazement, of connectedness, of curiosity—all symptoms of “awe and wonder”—every single day?

Last month, I run a pilot test of the spiritual practice I want to propose for May. And I learn a little about the kind of person I am. (Let’s just pretend for a moment that the above two are our choices.)

Day one: I ask myself to notice something that inspires awe or wonder.

Just moments later, I am amazed when I walk into the big post office on First Street and find no one in line! I marvel at the warm, friendly conversation I have with the person at the counter. I rattle off my enthusiasm for our Unitarian Universalist faith when he asks about my chalice necklace. “Awesome!” I think, as I head back to the office. “Piece of cake, this spiritual practice. I’ll try it for a second day.”

Day two: ………………………………….

Nothing. Nada. Tumbleweeds drifting across the barren landscape of my wonder-less life.

And so on for the next few days. Somehow I forget to look up from the to-do list to notice some sweet special-delivery message from my senses. Somehow I lose my confidence that it’s OK to call the “small” encounters awe-some or wonder-full. Evidently I think “awe and wonder” must represent something rare indeed.

Yet the experience of wonder lies at the heart of our religion. The very first of the six Sources for the ever-unfolding “living tradition” of Unitarian Universalism is “direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life.”

A renewal of the spirit. An openness to life itself. Those sound like much-needed refreshment for all of us, whether or not we can connect with the “transcendent” part.

So let’s invite awe and wonder back into our daily lives this month. The spiritual practice is simple: all we need to do is to be on the lookout—using all our senses—for what amazes us or awes us, one day at a time. What gives you a sense of wonder today? What makes you curious today? Here’s how it works:

The Practice

Please join me for thirty-one days of experiencing awe and wonder in the everyday!

  1. Notice: Find below the list of prompts for each day in May. The prompts suggest where you might look for experiences of awe or wonder. For example, on May 1, “Small,” ask yourself: “What tiny thing or small experience amazes me today?” Whether it’s the bones in your little toe, or a bee dipping into a flower, or a momentary sweet encounter with a stranger on the street—there can be wonder in what’s small.

Note: These prompts need not limit you! Use them or ignore them—the point is to take a moment each day to slow down and simply notice. If you only do those two things—slow down and notice—then you are contributing to our communal spiritual practice! Yet we hope you’ll take the next step, too:

  1. Create: When you notice that flicker of wonder or curiosity—when you notice something that amazes you in a large or small way—take a picture, write a poem, or scribble a descriptive sentence or two. Have some fun with this second step. No need to be literal about the prompts—just play. Or if being literal increases your wonder, then mine the meaning of each prompt to your heart’s content. See if you can capture in words or imagery some of that childlike amazement that comes with seeing the world “for the first time.
  2. Post: Share your photo or your writing. First post it to our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/FUCSJ (you can sign up for Facebook for free). In this way, we will inspire and encourage each other through the month. Then send it to our newsletter editors at circular.editors@gmail.com. We’ll publish some of the photos, poems, and paragraphs in our June journal.
  3. No worries! There is no right or wrong way to engage in this practice, as long as your intention is to reawaken your sense of wonder. Some days will be more of a challenge than others. Don’t worry if you miss a day. Just keep coming back to the practice, and noticing. We can bet that this spiritual practice gets easier with … practice.
  4. Want some more inspiration? Read “In Our Own Voices” in the newsletter. Our congregants’ responses go deep on this theme. Then join us for worship and Small Group Ministry sessions as we pause to marvel and wonder.

I look forward to “wondering” with you!

Love,

Rev. Nancy

The Prompts

May

  1. Small
  2. Large
  3. Touch
  4. Heavy
  5. Unexpected
  6. Familiar
  7. Light
  8. Orange
  9. Violet
  10. Smell
  11. Sharp
  12. Soft
  13. Loud
  14. Silent
  15. Swift
  16. Lingering
  17. Young
  18. Old
  19. Earth
  20. Water
  21. Fire
  22. Air
  23. Emptiness or Energy
  24. Taste
  25. Surface
  26. Depth
  27. Separate
  28. Together
  29. Same
  30. Different
  31. Your own awesome self!

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