Midweek Musings: October 6, 2022

Dear Friend,

The selections I’ve chosen for the Midweek Musing this week all create in me a sense of wonder.
Wonder at the wideness of the universe.
Wonder at an extraordinary musical gift of both human and bird.
Wonder at the great number of people all over the globe who have managed to make an impact.
Wonder at one man’s hopeful vision for the world.

But I’m not sure that wonder is the right word actually. Perhaps I mean a sense of awe.

Brene Brown, in her book Atlas of the Heart, discusses how we often use the words “awe” and “wonder” interchangeably. She writes, “but there is a primary difference between our experiences of these incredible emotions that’s worth understanding…’wonder inspires the wish to understand; awe inspires the wish to let shine, to acknowledge and to unite.’ When feeling awe, we tend to simply stand back and observe…Awe and wonder are essential to the human experience. Wonder fuels our passion for exploration and learning, for curiosity and adventure. Researchers have found that awe “leads people to cooperate, share resources, and sacrifice for others” and causes them “to fully appreciate the value of others and see themselves more accurately, evoking humility.” Some researchers even believe that “awe-inducing events may be one of the fastest and most powerful methods of personal change and growth.”

I don’t think I needed researchers to tell me that last part. As a person of faith, I see first first-hand how often the awe inspired in encounters with God and in God’s creation cause personal change and growth.

What in your life causes wonder – spurs you on to learn more and dig deeper? And what in your life causes awe where you just stand back and let it shine?
I hope you will find both wonder and awe in the week ahead.
Pastor Jenny

PS I commend the book Atlas of the Heart to you or the HBO special based on the book. It is a study of human emotion with hopes of making better distinctions (beyond just happy, sad, angry) so that we might all be able to better name how we feel and thus communicate with one another more openly and clearly.

something Worth reading

Stunning Spiral Galaxies Captured by the James Webb Space Telescope

by Jessica Stewart

I’m cheating a bit here because this is an article to read, but mostly I share it for the magnificent pictures. These new pictures of the universe offer us a glimpse of how vast space is, how complex and beautiful it is and to admire what it means to be human – each of us so small in comparison, but while small, we are also capable of creating technology to see space this way. Truly awe-inspiring.

A quote from the article:
“The spectacular results show the wisps of gas and dust in the galaxies in a manner that wasn’t previously possible. In fact, the impressive nature of JWST’s abilities is really brought into focus when matched up against images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Read the full article here.

something worth hearing

Yo-Yo Ma and Anna Clyne – In The Gale

All summer I have been enjoying many of the birds that come to my backyard, while also being frustrated by the tons of sparrows that have taken up residency and eat all the seeds I plant before they can grow. Birds are awesome creatures. To watch them fly has inspired humans forever.

Recently I came across this project that began during the 2020 quarantine called For the Birds: The Birdsong Project. The project is an outpouring of creativity by more than 220 music artists, actors, literary figures, and visual artists, all coming together to celebrate the joy birds bring to our lives and elevate the message they have for us about the environmental threats we all face. All proceeds will benefit Audubon’s mission to protect birds and the places they need. You can find more about the project here:

https://www.thebirdsongproject.com/

One of the many recordings is this beautiful video of Yo-Yo Ma playing his cello with the birds. Enjoy!

something worth watching

A People Map of the US

(where city names are replaced by their most Wikipedia’ed resident:
people born in, lived in, or connected to a place)
This isn’t a video but is rather an interactive map where you can see where different notable people have come from all over the US. You can zoom in to get right down to towns. If you hover over the name a box at the bottom tells you what they are known for in history. Of course, it raises questions about what makes someone “notable” and there are plenty of people on the map who are such for terrible reasons. But I thought it was fun to look at the places in the country that are meaningful to me and see who was listed there and what they had done. Perhaps you will too!

something worth praying

“A Vision”

Wendell Berry 
If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we never know it,
and over it, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.

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