“Awe & Wonder”
“For Everyone Who Has Been Given More Blessings Than They Have Received”
Read carefully that quote above. That is how Rachel dedicated this book. I have taken time this week to really consider it. At first I found it to be a bit of a paradox. How could anyone be given more of something than she/he has received? But the answer is quite simple, and I’m sure you all saw it quickly. It’s this idea that we are being given blessings all the time. We just aren’t in a position to receive all of them. Seen this way, I think Rachel has dedicated the book to all of us.
I also think that her primary purpose for writing the book is to help people better recognize and receive blessings. I’m reminded of how Kurt Vonnegut referenced a similar concept in his classic novel “Slaughterhouse 5.” He makes the main character of the book an optometrist, someone who prescribes corrective lenses for human eyes. Part of what Vonnegut wanted to accomplish in writing this book was to prescribe corrective lenses for human souls. Having and looking through lenses such as these we are blessed with lives of meaning and purpose. We feel our connection to everything else. We are filled with awe and wonder.
On the subject of awe and wonder, please bear with me as I tell you this story. Two years ago my family spent a year living in France, and the house in which we lived had a small urinal in one of the bathrooms. Our landlords were a married couple and the urinal was a Christmas gift given to the husband by the wife a few years before we moved in. One day, while, um, using it, I found myself admiring the craftsmanship of it. Frankly, it struck me as a pretty awesome thing, a work of art in many ways. The design and shape of the porcelain, the way the lid is hinged and attached, the delicacy with which the screw holes must have been drilled without cracking the porcelain. It’s all pretty incredible. Then there is the installation of the fixture, the connecting of it to the pipes within the home, a piece of infrastructural beauty that I also greeted with awe. The idea that fresh water is easily accessible inside the house and waste water easily removed from the house is an incredible thing. The cooperation of so many people that made easy the mundane experience of me completing a biological function filled me with admiration. How many things do I take for granted? How many more blessings am I given than I receive?
Okay, so maybe it’s impossible to constantly live in such a state of awe over things like urinals. But I think moving in that direction on the awe spectrum puts me in a much better position of having a happy and fulfilled life than not taking time occasionally to consider them. And if we get really good at finding blessings in ordinary things, if we make doing so a conscious part of our daily lives, then maybe we’ll more easily find the blessings in the heartbreaking things.
That’s when all that practice might pay off.
Link to Book: “My Grandfather’s Blessings”