“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.”