I’ll admit it: I have a weakness for collecting quotes. I have more than one shoebox stuffed with pieces of paper ripped out of magazines, lines scribbled on napkins and notebook paper, and multitudes of other wordy tidbits that have sparked my thoughts or touched my heart. And sometimes, there’s that rare and most welcome gem that does both. I was lucky enough to happen upon one just this past week.
One morning, as I faithfully ripped off the previous day’s page from my quote-a-day calendar, my thoughts of the day’s work ahead of me were quickly placed on pause by the new saying in front of me. I will have to paraphrase as I am writing this post in a car whilst traveling through Michigan, but the quote went something like this:
“If people living on a planet without flowers saw the glorious blooms thriving around us every day, they would think we were constantly mad with joy.”
I was stopped in my tracks. It was not so much due to any major lack of proper appreciation for flowers (although I won’t deny that I take them for granted); it was more because of the overall theme: awe.
Awe of creation, humanity, and God is an aspect of Catholicism that I absolutely love. Catholicism views the world as good and full of beauty because God created it; while it may be fallen and sinful, we still recognize that God Himself breathed it into existence. I doubt that many people who have ever witnessed a sunrise or held a newborn baby could say that they have not been overwhelmed by awe.
Awe in everyday life is much more difficult, however, and the quote on my calendar definitely whacked me over the head with that truth. When we see the same people, view nearly identical sights on our daily drives to and from work, and even attend Mass at the same parish on a regular basis, it’s extremely easy to forget the beauty and possibility for wonder within the things that inhabit our daily lives.
I am especially reminded of the need for a renewal of awe this Lent. The Lent and Easter seasons certainly feature renewal as a common theme: we are called to examine our lives in order to flush out the darkness within us, orienting ourselves toward the love and mercy of Christ. The more I reflect, though, I believe that we are also called to renew our awe of the beauty and love that God infuses into all aspects of our lives.
We are called to be pleasantly startled by the radiant smiles of the people who grace our lives every day. We are called to be stunned once again by the immense talent of the musicians we’ve been listening to for the past five or ten years. We are called to remember how deeply we love and appreciate the friends and significant others in our lives and how blessed we are to have them. And perhaps most of all, we are called to be left breathless during Mass at the Christ who loves us so deeply that He takes on the form of a humble piece of bread and simple cup of wine in order to be intimately close to us.
May we remember that Christ not only invites us to become aware of the things inside us that prevent us from deeper union with Him, but also to simply and deeply experience the environments, people, and experiences that surround us. May we live in child-like, beautiful awe of the evidence of His love that He quietly places in our lives more often than we might ever recognize.