Radical Amazement

   

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement,” said Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “. . . 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.”

When I was a boy with “nothing to do” I often told my mother that I was bored. She never believed me. “Read a book!” she would say without so much as pausing in her bread kneading. “Run around the block!” That was how I found out about crayfish under rocks in Marne Creek and kingfishers in the tree tops. It was how I discovered baby bats in a nest in the loft over the garage. It led me to open the one-foot-thick dictionary in our living room and find that, oddly, I enjoyed reading it like a book. It was what forced me to ride my bicycle to where the last street in town petered out into cornfields, and look out over the tassels into infinity. All because of my mother’s prohibition of boredom.

We all miss the mother who has no time for ennui. “Go out and play!” We adults could use someone to order us out of the house, out of the office, off our phones and into the stunning reality in the midst of which we are bored out of our skulls. We seek distractions to save us from boredom, when what we need is simply to wake up and see what is plainly before us. Spiritual wisdom calls us to wake up to life—the one right in front of us. When we do, we always discover that the divine is hidden in the ordinary. “Hidden” only because we cannot see what it sitting in our laps.

“To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Debunking the Violence Myth

Some years ago Pam and I were invited to a brunch on Easter Sunday morning. A happy crowd of families gathered, fresh from the morning’s buoyant celebration of the resurrection. When it was time to eat, I was deputized to go find the kids. I went downstairs and found them huddled around a computer. I…

To Hallow Time

Every noon as the clock hands arrive at twelve, I want to tie the two arms together, And walk out of the bank carrying time in bags. -Robert Bly As if our relationship to time weren’t crazy enough, we deliberately throw off our clocks by an hour. Twice a year. You’ve heard about the health…

The Bridge

“August 10, 2008, Saturday afternoon at 1:40 PM. A young woman 300 meters from the south end of the bridge climbed onto the bridge railing. I immediately started my moped, but because I accelerated too quickly, the moped leaked oil and ignited. I had to run to her, but when I was 200 meters away,…

There Are No Silly Love Songs

The greatest human problem is a want of love, and the simplest antidote is confessing our love—telling people, “I love you.” Why does anyone need to restate the obvious, since everyone already knows it? Paul McCartney sang, You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs I look around me and I…