awake to awe
two holy things happened in synagogue this week, on the night and the long day of prayer that marked the new year: one, the boy who now towers over me, he grabbed my thumb with his, and inch by inch enfolded his fingers over mine. he wouldn’t let go. he leaned in, so much so that i yielded my head to his shoulder. felt the rise and fall of his breathing against the tide of my own. we sat like that, entwined, silent, for long stretches of prayer. it was the holiest prayer i’ve prayed in a very long time. over and over — it never gets old — i remember how unlikely it was, how impossible it was, that he came to me, to us. that in the midst of our believing it would never be, the unbelievable happened: he happened.
a mother’s deepest prayers, sometimes, are the ones she whispers only to herself. those were the prayers i prayed on the new year. each breath was emboldened with the knowing that a year from now he will not be by my side. i will not feel him pressing against my shoulders. there will be miles and miles between us. and it will ache. i will ache.
the other holy thing, the thing that’s washed over me all week, and will wash and wash for days still, is the notion that we carve these 10 days of awe out of the whole cloth of the year, and do as commanded. we are commanded to be awake to awe, to make each passing moment be a prayer, the prayer of paying attention, the prayer of drinking in all that surrounds us, that buoys us, that lifts us and carries us on a current unattached to the dreck of the everyday.
the prayer in my prayer book is this, and the title of the prayer (composed for the High Holy Days in the early centuries of the Common Era, according to the footnote) happens to be How Do We Sense God’s Holiness? Through Awe. here are the first lines…
And so, in Your holiness,
give all creation the gift of awe.
Turn our fear to reverence;
let us be witnesses of wonder —
perceiving all nature as a prayer come alive….
the prayer goes on, and the leitmotif of paying attention arises again and again through the hours of prayer that are rosh hashanah. it’s as if the prayer found my soul, found the soul that had been waiting for just those words, just that command: “let us be witnesses of wonder — perceiving all nature as a prayer come alive.”
and so i’ve done as commanded ever since i walked out of that sacred space where the prayers and the limbs of the boy wound around me. i’ve opened my eyes and my ears and my soul to the majesty — the breathtaking, trumpet-blasting, cymbal-crashing beauty — that is this stretch of time and season-turning, the enflaming of the planet as the last-blast palette engulfs the trees and the nodding heads atop the stems that bend in autumn breeze.
it’s not just a ho-hum isn’t-this-lovely that punctuates my days, it’s a notch beyond. it’s a command from God. “perceive all nature as a prayer come alive….”
there is a certain holiness imbued. there is a sure clear knowing that the hand that created all of this, all of this fathomless wonder, is the hand of the Creator, the one who breathed first breath into each of us. the one who has tumbled the unbelievable into my life — more than once.
my watch-keeping this week feels anointed. as if God is right there over my shoulder, delighting each time i spy one of the wonders. delighting when i pause to drink it in — slow the car, plop down on a stone, tiptoe out the door to count the stars.
i felt God the morning i drove along a field shimmering in golden rod, and the glowing slant of sun streaked radiance like lightning bolts, set the dew drops shimmering — jewels of the dawn.
i felt God when i glanced toward the night sky through the heavy boughs of trees last night and caught the crescent moon winking at me. bright. certain. daring me to slow my dash and pay attention. stop and marvel, i almost heard it whisper.
i will feel the certain hand of God when i first hear the faraway cry of the geese, crossing sky, crossing miles, crossing half the globe in search of thermal sanctuary. leaving us behind to shiver in the winter’s cold.
i am living in a census of wonder. i am living awake to awe. i am knowing that all of God’s creation is prayer come alive. and i am praying right along.
what moments of wonder have you counted this week? begin the litany here….
(i am dashing to drive my sweet boy to school, and clicking the publish button before my litany is done. but so be it. we weave the rest together…..)
I felt God in the wonder of my little 3 year old boy as stood getting soaked in a wild Georgia storm this week. Giggling and laughing as he ran through the mini rivers that formed in our streets. It’s been a long summer and yet the rain still comes to cleanse, wash away, and renew.
(Though my prayers are with those severely impacted by the hurricanes, a much different kind of storm indeed.)
oh, what a glorious moment. i can hear the laughter. and, yes, yes, our prayers are with you mightily this morning, as the news reports the pounding and pounding of rain and wind. may all be safe. and may the wonder of your little boy’s laughter carry you on an updraft through the years. i promise those moments never fade…..
Thank you so much. I continually return to Motherprayer. It’s a very good companion on this journey of motherhood. I think of your words often as I stand at the stove to prepare food or when I hold my little one through the night as he has a fever. It really does help me treasure these moments and store them in my heart.
ohhhhhh, you just made me cry. to know that my words bring my heart close to yours as you travel this circuitous, uncharted path…..THAT is the answer to another of my deepest prayers. it means everything to me to know that our shared motherprayers wrap you in the hours when you stir and cradle, and all those other verbs that spell love. xoxox
Okay, I am going to get extra points in my life review for not saying, “I told you so” (insert smile here) about Samantha’s note above. Your words DO make a difference, always, always, always, to so very many of us. Ripples in a pond. And the world is the pond.
“Turn our fear to reverence” is what I’m holding onto this week. Amen and Amen.
The moon was so VERY glorious last night, with whatever planet it was brightly shining near it. Yep, thought of you, as always when stargazing. Praying for all those this week getting pounded by the worst of nature, as we enjoy some of the best weather we’ve had in ages.
extra points + heart melted here. xoxox i am so grateful you shone a light on those five words, “turn our fear to reverence,” for among the words they hadn’t yet leapt out to me as much as they now do……as one who lives with so many fears, that is indeed a high bar, a hope: to turn those fears to reverence. i was so absorbed by the wonder piece of it, i’d not yet turned my undiluted attention to that line…..thank you. always thank you, for turning my gaze right where it is blessed to be…..xoxox
A note of Divine Providence, bam….after years of prayer and trustful waiting,
the sale of our home in New Bern, NC closed the end of August…and I bowed in humble gratitude, only to now grieve the devastation of that beautiful town evoked by Florence. These high holy days have been
wonderous in inspiration and insight….the particular one being to find and to
give of the best that is in us – as though we are charged by our Creator to
take the gifts He has bestowed and return them to Him more glorious than
when received by giving them selflessly to others according to His Will. It has been a peaceful time of contemplation (a luxury in this rapid-paced world of ours)…. let us drink at this oasis in time. Shalom, dear Friend.
oh my gracious! i had not heard of beautiful new bern before this week, and first i saw the pictures of how lovely it was BEFORE florence, and now, in the throes and aftermath. i am sooo sorry for all those in that beautiful haven of the world.
your words are beautiful.
let us drink at this oasis, indeed. bless you…..