Abraham Joshua Heschel’s words are among my favorites. They remind me of the difference between a world in black and white and a world in technicolor (for those old enough to remember the difference!). It is the difference between mechanically going through the day, and being aware of every breath of wind, every fragrance of cedar, the warmth of the sun on our skin, the sound of every variety of bird. It is being aware of time and then to be awed by time.
Yet, when we are caught up in life’s brutal moments, this bliss is not our experience. We are in survival mode. I recall it being as if I were watching life go by from the inside of a brown paper bag - not seeing much except for what was right in front of me, and only then taking it as if it were two dimensional. That became my new normal for a time - it became NORMAL. Radical amazement was the furthest thing from my mind.
If this is you, know that it is not forever. Being caught up in the survival mode is an adaptation that we need to get through the shock. Don’t deny it its healing power. You will sense when you are reading and wanting to come out of it and when you do, the whole world is waiting. Just as when you were a small child, with a child’s mind, and absolutely everything was a new experience. You are normal. What is happening to you is setting the foundation for your healing. It will come. In the meantime, the mountains still stand, the tide still rises and falls daily, the sun will come up. Take comfort there, and be radically amazed at each day, each step. You can do this.
Try this: In a few moments of stillness, imagine a time that you remember being full of wonder, such as seeing or experiencing something amazing for the first time. Close your eyes, and ask your inner wisdom this question: “When was I filled with radical amazement?” Wait and listen for what your heart and your mind’s eye reveal to you. See how it makes you feel. Where does that feeling center itself in your body? Your joyful self is still there. This might take a few tries. Don't worry if it doesn't work for you right away.
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“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ....get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
Give yourself the gift of taking time and try recalling that feeling each day. Make this a practice.
Look outside your self and take the time to observe. This time of year has a special kind of beauty. Perhaps you will see something that stirs that place where your joyful self resides.
Take time to dwell there for a minute. The gift of grief is the slowness of time. It may be just the time we need.
Try to do this once a day. I invite you to anchor the experience with a simple verbal recognition, “Thank you, Holy One, for this gift of radical amazement.”