Thought for the Day: I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but probably around 10 or so. I really wanted to watch the Perseid meteor shower that would be at its height after midnight. My mother reluctantly gave me permission to spend the night alone with my sleeping bag in the backyard. All the lights in the house were turned off, and though there was still some light pollution, we lived on the edge of the city and the sky was pretty good for observing meteors. Laying there alone, in the dark, I was a bit anxious. But for a few hours, I was also disappointed. I caught a couple of tiny meteors, but they were nothing like what others had described to me. But somewhere around 1:00am, a brilliant meteor shot halfway across the sky, changing colors, and then splitting into two meteors before disappearing. It was spectacular, yet terrifying. My heart rate went from rest to rapid in two seconds. It was a bit surprising to feel frightened as it was exactly what I hoped to see, yet there are times when awe feels very similar to fear. A lot of what happens internally is basically the same. The Psalmist was a poet who provided imagery of the breath-taking majesty that is creation. Some have translated this verse using the word fear (stand in fear…), but awe is, in my opinion, a much better translation. That night in which I saw as many as a hundred meteors, including a few dozen spectacular examples, produced something within me that felt a little like fear. The chemicals released into the blood stream had me pondering whether the security of my own bed was better. The difference between fear and awe happens in the pause, when one realizes that s/he has witnessed something greater than self, something only a handful of poets have come close to capturing.
Prayer: Whether I experience it firsthand or are drawn into the experience through the poet’s pen, I seek to be awed. Holy One, your presence stretches beyond the edges of the universe and your love enfolds it all. Too often we become resistant and callus to what should leave us awestruck. Awaken us once again, O God, to the breath-taking beauty of life and love. Amen.
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