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Wonder and Awe

Why do things happen the way they do?  Whether it’s the current pandemic we are in or the ordinary moments of life, we ponder why things happen the way they do.

Truth is, most theological answers leave a lot to be considered.  Essentially, they come down to two all-or-nothing alternatives.  The first is that God is directly involved in everything, from the creation of the world to a particular moment we are in.  We might call this “predestination.”

The second answer is that our Creator was only involved in the start-up of the universe.  God put everything on autopilot and is now uninvolved in the word.  We might call this “deism.”

Reflecting on questions about things happening the way they do, I believe the best answers normally lie somewhere in the middle.  This makes it hard to fully understand what God is doing, but I would like to think the Great Almighty comes down on the proper side of everything that is truly meaningful.

But in all this curiosity about things happening the way they do, maybe we are missing the boat.  Perhaps our energy is better spent doing something else entirely.  Maybe the essential act of faith is simply being open to what God is doing.  Maybe the definitive act of faith is “wonder.”  In Proverbs 9:10 we read, “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord; the knowledge of the holy one is understanding.” (CEB)

I would suggest we remain open to the remarkable acts taking place around us.  With an inner curiosity and sense of awe, we will see beauty in God’s creation, both in nature and in our fellow person.  I think of the words of St. John of Damascus in the Eighth Century, “Be amazed, O heavens!  Be shaken, O foundations of the earth!”  With the ultimate Lord of all, nothing is impossible.

I believe the foundational religious experience is not certitude, but wonder.  An openness to what God is doing will certainly surprise us.  It might even contradict long-held beliefs.  But isn’t it an uplifting way to live.  Might we pray that God will continue to teach us!  This makes each day rich and important!  May God bless you!  Scott