Years ago, I had the chance through work with Habitat for Humanity to meet President Carter and attend one of the Sunday school classes he taught in Plains, Georgia. The sermon that day was from Peter, and President Carter’s theme was “even though” – the idea that faith is worthy even though – or maybe especially when – it might bring hardship.
Later on, he answered a question about what made him most proud. He talked about his family, eradicating guinea worm disease, and “some political things too,” like his work in the Middle East. Then quietly and slowly he said, “I’m proud that I led our nation for four years, through a difficult period. We never dropped a bomb. Never launched a missile. Never fired a bullet.” Knowing how strong the critique of these decisions was back then – and even now – these comments struck me as particularly meaningful. “Even though.”
Dear ones, sometimes it’s what we do makes all the difference.
Sometimes it’s what we choose not to do.
Through it all, may we keep our faith.
I was rushing to work the other day, somehow already feeling behind though the sun had just risen. As I quickened my pace, hitching my heavy bag up on my shoulder and adjusting my headphones so I could hear the CFO’s conference call comments, a flash caught my eye.
It was a HAWK! A big huge hawk, right in the middle of the city, and not way up in a tree or circling overhead, but right in front of me on the lawn. I stopped dead in my tracks, and reflexively blurted out, oh, hello! We spent a few minutes together before she took to the sky and I took to the path.
Friends, the week might bring snow squalls or oatmeal for dinner or a George Bailey style run on the bank.
But it might also bring a hawk at sunrise.
A tree can’t be a forest.
A book can’t be a library.
A drop can’t be an ocean.
A note can’t be a song.
A person can’t be a community.
Here’s to the other things,
and how they make us not just more, but us.
I’ve been mulling over the differences between awe and wonder lately, in part thanks to this recent terrific conversation between Krista Tippett and Dacher Keltner. Their discussion stayed with me because Keltner’s work highlights that the most common form of awe is not the Grand Canyon or the Redwoods, but humans awed by one another. Durkheim’s concept of “collective effervescence” is an extension of this, the amplified energy and meaning when awe is experienced together. These are vital and alluring topics, and I took extra delight in hearing Durkheim’s name for the first time since Divinity School.
Friends, there is the essential joy of the brain, and there is the elemental joy of the heart. Both precious, both needed.
Tonight I witnessed a genius musician perform in the most beautiful home imaginable, surrounded by people who were all just as delighted and focused and appreciative as I was. By the end we were almost dizzy, buzzing and speechless before this amazing gift. This was Awe with a capital A. Collective effervescence.
Dear ones, I wish you joy.
I wish you wonder.
I wish you awe.
By popular demand, I am including photos of the potato cake and the pretzel cake mentioned last week. They may not garner Awe, but they were indeed awesome.
This week has included preparation of a triumphant birthday cake made entirely of potato products for my dear nephew (tots, mashed, chip, and fry), and another made entirely of soft pretzels, croquembouche-style, for my dear sister. (There was a third, composed of fresh vegetables, but no one wants to claim that one.) So much to celebrate!
As the winter tiptoes towards spring,
May we find a warm perch as the creek ice cracks.
May we bask in the joys of others.
May we be greeted with happy yelps.
May we scoop the first daffodils into a jar,
trusting their sunshine to lead us onward.