I happened to listen to a sermon recently given by a minister with a Christian background, although he now seems to be more of a progressive/liberal spiritual thinker than he might have been in his early days. His topic related to connecting with something greater than ourselves, regardless of what name we choose to give it: God, nature, the Oversoul, the transcendant other, etc. He commented that many progressives these days have stopped using word “God” because it has too much baggage. I am one of those.
He said that the job of religion was to help the finite (we humans) meet the infinite (that which can never be completely reached). He also talked about the role of philosophy and religious thought as being an invitation into authenticity. Religion should facilitate our becoming the best at living into who we are. That would be for me to be and become the very best, unique Connie I could, not some other person. That is the job I was put here to do, to live into being the best authentic me I can be. Then I can appreciate the amazing authenticism or authenticity of others around me, as they are living their lives authentically.
We are the divine expression of “wow.” This is expressed by other words and phrases in various religious writings. We are supposed to be the people of “wow.” He mentioned that we need to spend more time with small children, who haven’t yet lost touch with “wow.” We should find more ways to enjoy “wow.” We should be so captivated by life and each other that we walk around all the time as the “people of wow” who just can’t get over how amazing life is.
I found this very intriguing and I had never heard it put quite this way before. I certainly found this more captivating than being told I was here on earth to atone for the sin of Adam. I think I may have been travelling down some paths to wow throughout my life, without calling it by that name. I have been wowed by books I’ve read, and music I’ve heard, and films I’ve watched, and travel experiences. I was wowed in Africa walking with lions and petting them and watching a parade of elephants cross a river in the Okavango Delta. I was wowed seeing icebergs in Greenland, visiting Port Meirion in Wales, visiting Normandy Beach and the American military cemetery there, by cruising down the Rhine, by the beautiful architecture in Prague. I was wowed seeing the giant Buddha statue on Lantau Island in Hong Kong. I’ve been wowed by some tour guides I’ve met and some fellow travelers. I’ve been wowed having conversations with really interesting people. I was wowed seeing Willie Nelson live. I’ve been wowed going to botanical gardens, like Butchart Gardens in Canada or the Huntington Library, or Descanso Gardens in southern California. I was wowed earlier this year taking a garden tour around south Orange County (the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour). I am often wowed by talented people I run into, musicians, artists, jewelers, teachers, professors. My life has been transformed by some of those meetings. And I could go on and on.
I don’t mean to be smug, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far looking for, and finding, ways and places to have a “wow” experience. On the other hand, aren’t there those who think I’ve been too self-indulgent, that perhaps I should have been more modest, denying myself so much pleasure? I’ll be retiring before long and I always find it odd when I hear someone say “I just don’t know what I’d do with myself if I retired. I wouldn’t feel useful or that I had a purpose.” Or similar words to the same effect. Were some of these people born without the wow gene? Which reminds of the fellow traveler I met in Rome, who couldn’t understand why “they didn’t tear down all that old shit” (the Coliseum, and all the antiquities) and build some modern buildings. He might have been born without the wow gene. These folks need some lessons in sharpening their perceptions – Becoming More Aware 101. There are wow generators all around us. We just have to be open to them.
So I’m updating my Bucket List all the time with things that I expect to be wow experiences. Life is too short for long periods of blah.
And I may be adding more to this later……