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.”

11 Responses to Radical Amazement
  1. Matt
    November 16, 2017 | 10:30 am

    I could use me a little boredom right about now!

  2. Ingrid
    November 16, 2017 | 12:11 pm

    You wrote this because I needed to hear this – an answer to my morning prayers. Thank you !

  3. Bex
    November 16, 2017 | 12:21 pm

    My kitty Sylvia jumped into my lap just before I read your last sentence…

  4. Ann Koberna
    November 16, 2017 | 5:21 pm

    Your descriptions of the discoveries you made as a boy also feel like reflections on gratitude. Now I will endeavor to experience more of God’s presence through out my day and as a result experience more gratitude as well.
    Your insights redirect me. Thank you David!

  5. Don Burr
    November 16, 2017 | 8:37 pm

    Oh, how I miss the days of wandering my own neighborhood in East Norwalk; and that of my grandparents, in Rockland, Maine. Finding wonder among the treasures in their attic; from which I could select one random treasure each visit to take back to Connecticut with me.
    Rambling with neighborhood kids along the mud-soaked shore of the mill pond across the street from our home.
    Magical memories.
    Thank you, David.

  6. Mimi
    November 17, 2017 | 8:18 am

    Good story! Reminded me that it was “dangerous” to tell our mom that we were bored because that was a surefire way to be assigned a job around the house or in the yard.

  7. Helen
    November 17, 2017 | 9:14 pm

    My answer, “People who are bored are boring! How about scrubbing the kitchen floor?” All of a sudden bored no more.
    Am so happy that you are back! Thanks David your meditations are always inspiring and I hope they keep coming😊

  8. Ginny Lovas
    November 18, 2017 | 1:52 am

    Loved the comment about reading the Dictionary. While I was not a Dictionary reader during my childhood or even now, my husband Joe spent his days on the Destroyer reading the Dictionary when he was not busy fixing the Engines! He has been through the Dictionary at least 4 or 5 times, and his vocabulary is amazing!

    However, I am never bored! I wish I was once in awhile.


  9. Kay Anderson
    November 19, 2017 | 11:59 pm

    David. I really loved this piece. Makes me really think about my addition to my phone! Funny how we find “walls” to erect between us and reality, real living. When we do stop and observe life truly is amazing! Thank you.

  10. Cathy H.
    November 23, 2017 | 5:18 pm

    Good reminder to seek to be amazed every day! Glad to see you are posting again (or maybe I’ve just missed them). Just know that between you and Three Many Cooks, your absence is noticed. Not a criticism, just a note of appreciation.

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