Be Astonished


The word "astonished" occurs 92 times in the Bible.  I only know this because I looked it up in a handy online concordance that lists those kinds of things. 

"Astonish" is the go-to English word that is used to translate nearly a dozen different Greek and Hebrew words that have a wide range of meanings from "struck dumb with amazement" to "perplexed" and "thrown into wonderment."

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word "astonish" frequently used to describe the reaction that people have when God interacts with humanity and all of Creation. 

Interestingly, in the New Testament, it's most often used to describe the reactions that people had to Jesus' teachings, and the miracles he performed. 

Funny... the same word is used over and over again to try to frame what human beings feel when they encounter God--both the transcendent, completely "other" experience of God, and God in the flesh, up close and personal. 

In his moving poem "A Giving," Irish poet Brendan Kennelly paints an incredible portrait of what it means to experience the Divine in the world, and be astonished by that experience. 
It is this little
That I give to you.
And now I want to walk out and witness
The shadow of some ungraspable sweetness
Passing over the measureless squalor of man
Like a child's hand over my own face
Or the exodus of swallows across the land
And I know it does not matter
That I do not understand.  
If you are not experiencing a sense of astonishment from experiencing the Divine in the world around you, perhaps you need to pay more attention.  Slow down.  Give yourself permission to lift your head from all of your tasks and look around. 

There are so many experiences of God to be had in the transcendent beauty and wonder of Creation and in the up close and personal presence of others.  And it does not matter if you don't understand.  Just be astonished.

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 

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