“I simply wait and watch for grace to unfold like the petals of a flower.” — Sister Helen Prejean, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
With Thanksgiving under our expanded belts, the Western world turns its attention to the celebration of its respective holy days. Santas are sighted in fast food restaurants grabbing a quick coffee, and the finishing touches are put on gifts lists amidst a flurry of lunch hour sprints to Costco and Target.
What tops my own wish list this season is a pronounced longing for wonder and awe. Oh, there is “stuff” that would please — a sweater for my favorite brown corduroy skirt, brightly colored wool sox that swaddle my tootsies in warmth and delight– but I am less eager for provisional bling. As part of the eldest living generation of my family, I am zeroing in more on legacy than accumulation, on passing on my treasures rather than acquiring more pretties that delight. What floats my boat beyond the enjoyment of lovely baubles is the thunderbolt A-ha! that pierces my heart and unfurls a morsel of Creator or creation: an unanticipated kindness, a momentary encounter with beauty, the awareness that a solution rendered or a road not taken was a wise choice — wiser than I would have made in Christmases passed.
Some people ascribe just the big things to God, the quantum discoveries and mondo occurrences that turn the tide of a generation or a country. I’m too impatient to wait for time to reveal how Big God events will effect me. Though I no longer require “signs and wonders to believe” and am — thankfully so — more comfortable with “not-knowing” than I used to be (this, in itself, is an experience worthy of awe!), I want to expand and savor the ways in which my little life demonstrates the attentive presence of God, an immediate, here-and-now conception of the Sacred. It’s “firsthand religion” I crave, a personal knowing, the intimate, individualized “WOWS!” that deepen my relationship to Life. Not something you’d find at Costco or target.
Gift exchanges, tree lights, menorah candles, and the glow of a holiday fire make bright the joy of the holiday season. I want to keep that flame burning. Awe and wonder keep the majesty and mystery alive; they fan the flame all year long. I’m up for that!