A Moment of Awe – An Hour with Wonder
Some years ago I asked audience members to share their last experience of a “moment of awe,” – a somewhat casual experience of the Divine intersecting with an earthly manifestation. No one raised a hand. Stunned by the lack of a response regarding a connection with daily awe, I decided then to create Some Awesome, a daily photographic moment now captured by our readership on their smart phones that is accompanied by a wisdom quote. (see Some Awesome, in this publication). Now thousands, who make it the first event of each morning, open Some Awesome to experience another’s moment of intersection and stimulate Rabbi Abraham Herschel’s quote: “Awe is the beginning of wisdom.”
But this writing in not about a moment of awe; instead, it is about an hour with wonder. I have spent many hours with wonder. I have lain on a blanket under the night skies of Wyoming watching the activity of the universe unfold before my eyes. I spent an amazing hour caring for our new born granddaughter Ella as she entertained me with her eyes while Momma and Grandmother enjoyed a deserved break. I have observed an ant farm in our back field and disappeared into the magnificence of their work and division of duties as time so easily faded without concern for my own work that awaited my attention.
Ten years ago my wife Susan and I returned from a Los Angeles taping of a television commercial for my work. Along with many others at the gate for this particular flight, we suddenly became aware of the commotion that accompanied a well known musical icon guarded by his formidable entourage. Stevie Wonder had just been guided to our gate as just another passenger awaiting takeoff to Washington, D.C. Many attempted to get near him for a photo op but were brusquely intercepted by four very large men. It was clear that he was not to be disturbed. Clear to everyone but my wily not to be dissuaded wife, she somehow glided by the guards and made her way right up to the master of music.
Sitting next to him, she sang softly into his ear: “You are the Sunshine of my Life.” I watched, in amazement, thinking I would soon have to go to Security to beg the release of this adoring fan. Instead, I observed no discontent but instead a recognizable head sway as Stevie joined his own song singing along in harmony. What proceeded this musical connection between two strangers was an hour of conversation among the three of us, uninterrupted only by the desk agent calling out our names for being late to board as the door was closing. With ease, we sauntered down the jet way bidding our goodbyes with Stevie who declared a future visit to our farm and the promise of a new song: “I left my heart in Virginia.”
What was most impressive about this encounter was the grace and humility of this global star. There was no indignance at our intrusion or impatience for what he must encounter with each public appearance from adoring fans – instead just the quiet and deep gift of presence.
My wonder ever since this hour of memory was how I might be more patient and kind to all those who know and love me? And if I had a public recognition like this man, how would I act from the need of others to get close to me? I do not intend or seek such recognition in my life but suspect I would be tainted by the siren of success or the illusion of power that is implied in any entourage or star status.
Our hour with wonder was a memory we will never forget – and hopefully are recipients of a lasting reminder to be humble – be kind – be caring – to be harmonic. That would be a wonder worth sitting with.