With Holy Awe

Those of us who were part of the Vision Coalition and worked on Vision 2025: Our Ongoing Hope have been asked to write reflections on the Guiding Principles of Vision 2025. The Guiding Principles are statements that remind us of who we are and who we are becoming — a place where both the present and our hope for the future reside together. Guiding principles reveal what we need to commit to for our Vision to come about. They guide the way we work, organize ourselves and live our purpose together and in the world.

The Guiding Principle that I chose to write about is “With Holy Awe, we will practice cultivating gratitude, curiosity, joy, and delight, celebrating the power of Love to transform.”

American Rabbi and civil rights leader Abraham Joshua Heschel writes that “Reverence (awe) is one of man’s answers to the presence of mystery. This is why … it does not rush to be spoken. When we stand in awe, our lips do not demand speech … All we want is to pause, to be still, that the moment may last” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, from Thunder in the Soul: To Be Known by God).

As a nature photographer, I am often visited by awe. The sighting of an Eastern Bluebird feeding her young, a Monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, a showy sunrise at the beach – I greet each of these with Holy Awe and am flooded with natural gratitude, curiosity, joy, and delight. Creation is one of God’s most visible witnesses to the presence of mystery.

Perhaps a more unexpected place to experience awe would be in a corporate or non-profit board meeting. And yet, this past weekend, as the Shalem board and staff members gathered for their annual retreat and board meeting, I was delighted to experience moments that I can describe only as Holy Awe. In our opening gathering, as we looked around the room at those gathered, we were invited to recognize the presence of the Holy in one another with deep gratitude. With curiosity and care, we shared significant understandings about ourselves. There were moments of deep intimacy and vulnerability. There were challenging conversations as we continued the work of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. And later, with joy and delight, we created skits to act out the Guiding Principles.

I found myself frequently dazzled by words and wisdom offered and thoughtful, provocative insights. I also found myself musing delightedly at the unexpected – a board member breaking out in song, another extending a spontaneous invitation to dance, the thoughtful sounding of the bell calling us to pause.

The board and staff – the most diverse collection of faithful stewards Shalem has enjoyed to date – gathered in all our diversity and shaped one beloved community. We, with Holy Awe, were able to witness the presence of the Holy, to practice gratitude, curiosity, joy, and delight and, most clearly, to celebrate the power of Love to transform.

In that place of Holy Awe, my deepest desire was to pause, to be still, so that the moment would last. Thanks be to God!

View the complete Vision 2025: Our Ongoing Hope here.

March 03, 2023 by Susan Etherton 10 Comments
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

10 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anita Davidson
Anita Davidson
11 months ago

Beautiful reflection, Susan! Those awe moments in life surprise us and move us closer to the Divine Center of All, each one sweet and transforming…ahhh…

Susan
Susan
11 months ago
Reply to  Anita Davidson

Thank you!

Pat Durkin
Pat Durkin
11 months ago

Amen. Susan, your amazing photos have brought me to holy awe many times. I always think ‘how did she do that?!’😁

Susan
Susan
11 months ago
Reply to  Pat Durkin

Thank you, Pat.

N
N'Yisrela Watts-Afriyie
11 months ago

Right on time! I have a program-planning meeting this morning in a non-profit organization. Susan, your reflection has inspired and helped me to exhale.

Susan
Susan
11 months ago

So glad! Blessings!

Patience L Robbins
Patience L Robbins
11 months ago

This is a lovely description of my experience this past weekend.
A deep bow of gratitude to you, Susan.

Susan
Susan
11 months ago

Thank you, Patience.

June G Paul
11 months ago

To gaze with Holy Awe helps one to experience and maintain a sense of Awe and Wonder even when the times or places don’t seem to be particularly awesome or holy – Holy Awe reminds us that the Holy is within and all around us at all times. Thankful for the ministry of Shalem . . .

Susan
Susan
9 months ago
Reply to  June G Paul

Thank you, June!

Mission

Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.

Vision

In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.

Cancel