Shock and Awe
66,391. That’s how many people were in Lucas Oil Stadium last night to watch the Colts and the Patriots. I’m not a huge football fan, but I must confess that attending one of these games always takes my breath away. The crowds. The pomp. The sounds. The smells. The sights. The spectacle. Looking across the stadium, it was a sea of blue at such scale that it was difficult to take it all in. Individual voices were lost amid the cacophony until some unifying event brought the random noise into a shared roar that shook the very foundations of the massive facility.
On the field, the unbelievably talented athletes displayed strength, speed, and agility that is literally superhuman – beyond anything that most of us can even dream of. The fans were lost in the ecstasy of competition as they watched their teams battle it out and shared in the joys and frustrations of the struggle. Everyone could feel the energy of so many people crammed into one space – it was frighteningly electric…perhaps even atomic. I wondered what it would be like if there were a million people in one place. Awe and wonder.
Time and Distance
In the office the other day, one of our executives told me that she and her husband would be celebrating 37 years of marriage in a couple of weeks. 37 years. That’s a long time. Consider how unlikely it is to make it that far in a relationship. Starting with the unlikely event that you would ever meet that individual and progressing along the ebbs and flows of life to a point where you’ve been in each other’s lives for 13,505 days. Life is tough on people and tough on relationships. Even more amazing is that I’ve see these two and I think they still really like each other. A lot.
What can possibly happen over the course of 37 years? Struggle. Distraction. Frustration. Boredom. Indifference. So much can happen. Over time, we will experience much loss: jobs, loved ones, freedoms, faculties, youth. These is much to endure and such pressures can wreak havoc on relationships. Survive them and they can make those relationships not only resilient but unimaginably fulfilling. Formed over time, such a relationship becomes a unity, a singular institution that supports, protects, enables, and potentially, fulfills its members. Awe and wonder.
Over the last 60 days, I’ve had the opportunity to see mountains and ocean. For those of us living in the Midwest, that is a special occurrence as we don’t have easy access to either natural wonder. From the moment of landing in Denver, it is difficult to take my eyes off of that western horizon where snow-capped peaks mark what appear to be infinite distances. Moving closer and among them, their scale and scope is mind-blowing. The Rockies are incredible. Walking on those trails, looking at red rocks, scaling their heights…it is hard not to be overwhelmed by such amazing beauty.
Is the ocean any less staggering? Infinity takes on new meaning when gazing across the expanse of something so large that outer space is the only place to take it all in. The rhythm of the waves and the steady crashing across beaches ranges from hypnotically soothing to jarringly frightening when stirred to violent frenzy. The salty smell of the ocean seems pure and creates such a sense of refreshment. Add a sunrise or sunset and your poetic spirit takes flight as the notion of a 37-year relationship suddenly becomes plausible to the romantic within. Awe and wonder.
Innocent and Pure
Sally recently sent me this photo while on a walk with our grandchildren. The Santa Claus inflatable had just turned on and they were fascinated with it as it came to life. Suddenly, lights appeared and the whir of Santa’s blower captured their imaginations. “What is that number Santa is holding, Nanny?” Christmas was brought to life with plastic and electricity as the countdown to December 25th continued – only 10 days!
For children, such small things are all wonderful. They are pure magic. Those innocent eyes look at what we take for granted as new. Again and again and again. They have the gift of wonder and find it in so many places. The toy soldier display with a lighted cannon. The Nativity sets with Mary, Joseph, and the Wise Men, all waiting for Baby Jesus to arrive. The brightly lit houses with strands of twinkling lights announcing the glory of the Season. And that is just the beginning.
We hardly see it anymore. Wonder that is. We have to work at it. We have to be intentional. We have to remind ourselves that it sits there, right in front of us, cast across and behind the mundane that camouflages so much of the miraculous.
Much has been written about the “Great Resignation.” Whatever that means. Let’s face it, we all want to do meaningful work. We all want to have purpose, a mission that is a worthy endeavor. We all want to be appreciated. And so often, we all expect someone else to give it to us. We wait for someone else to pick us. We become impatient for meaning to find us and give us permission to be our best, most fulfilled, and most successful self. Humbug.
When was the last time you looked at your job with awe and wonder? Quite likely, it was when you were applying, interviewing, or starting it. What happened? What changed? Like the rest of our life, the wonder of the early days blends into the background, supplanted by the noise, shiny object, or dissatisfaction that distracts us from what moved us to begin with. Like one more sunset or glimpse of the mountains, we become blind to the awe right in front of us. Like that mountain, the wonder patiently waits for us to notice. The awe sits silently, hiding in plain sight, whispering its humble invitation.
Our Season of Wonder
What season are you in? Whatever your season, magic abounds all around you. The Christmas Season is a perfect time to reconnect with the mystery of it all. The world we live in. The Faith many of us hold in something beyond it. The technological wonders gifted to us. The incredible blessings of our lives in this country. The people who surround us. The opportunities afforded us. The love we have the chance to know. The mercy we have the chance to show.
This is the Season of Wonder. This is your season of wonder. Here and now, we have the chance to look at it all over again and see something new. With new perspective comes new wonder and the awe inspired by its immensity. Whether its 66,000 roaring fans, that person who’s been with you forever, the mountains or ocean you no longer notice, the job that has become boring, or the goofy decorations in your neighborhood, each is instilled with the potential for awe and wonder. Each holds its own magic waiting for you to see it again. This is the Season. This is your season. May you let it fill you with awe and wonder.