Awe

I begin the day with these words of Wendell Berry: We are either beginning or we are dead.

One son and I have been discussing how to live guided by: Alertness, Mindfulness, and Ardency.

I’ve been most puzzled by the meaning of ardency but then I thought of Hildegard of Bingen and her work with “greening”.  

I’m reading Matthew Fox’s book: Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic – and Beyond.   Julian lived 700 years ago and survived and advised through the bubonic plague that killed almost 50% of Europeans.  She is a wise and loving guide.

From Fox’s book:

“Julian holds thoughts about awe that anticipate some of the deep insights from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Hescel in the twentieth century.  For Heschel, “awe is the beginning of wisdom” and thus awe plays a prominent place in our quest not just for knowledge but for wisdom – a quest Julian also celebrates. In addition, Heschel has this to say about awe: “Wonder, radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is a prerequisite for an authentic awareness of that which is.”  

Fox continues: “Julian seems to bring this sense of wonder to the table in spades – as did her ancestors, Hildegard, Aquinas, and Eckhart. Awe is so stunning to our system and our consciousness, proposes Heschel, that we become “shocked at the inadequacy of our awe, at the weakness of our shock.””

Heschel warns us of what happens when we lose our sense of awe. “Forfeit your sense of awe, let your conceit diminish your ability to revere, and the universe becomes a marketplace for you.”  It is telling that both Heschel and Julian talk about the intrinsic relationship of “awe” and “reverence”. Awe gives birth to reverence, but consumerism and capitalism can abort awe.””

After twenty years of study of the brain, a  researcher at Stanford determined the right hemisphere of the brain is all about awe.

I’m reminded of Jill Bolte Taylor’s Ted Talk and book: My Stroke of Insight.