"Awe. Wonder. Mystery. Reverence. How can we choose among these words a title for this segment? There is a two-sidedness to wonder: on the one hand, standing in awe of a reality that is incomprehensibly greater than 'self,' we experience our smallness, our relative insignificance in the presence of immensity; yet also, our very human capacity for that awe, that wonder, calls into experience what the author of the psalms [8:5] describes and the apostle Paul quoted with approval in his letter to the Hebrews [2:7]: '. . . you have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor!' This exclamation expresses a double wonder: at the generosity of God or the magnificence of the universe, and at the majesty, the very wonder, of human be-ing.
" 'Awe is a reflex of spirit.'
" '. . . our capacity for awe is the lens through which creation passes. . . . So reverence should be thought of as prior to belief. It is the human predisposition, perhaps as universal among us as any other, to sense the grandeur of the event we call being, to consider the heavens, to ponder the cunning of a hand.
. . . reverence is the great corrective to the tendency of belief to warp, contract, harden. This is true, I think, because reverence is a kind of awe, and awe is a kind of humility.'
- Marilynne Robinson
". . . Spirituality begins not in fear ('help/save me') nor in greed ('give or get for me') but in the sense of awe, wonder, and gratitude ('Wow!' 'Thanks!') evoked at a realization of, in the aware presence of, beauty — whether perceived in the grandeur and magnificence of the universe or in the hint of infinity in a newborn infant.
" 'What is man, that you are mindful of him?' asked the psalmist in the verse preceding the one quoted above. We do not ask questions like that anymore. Which may be why it is so difficult to believe the next verse's response: '. . . a little lower than the angels . . . crowned with glory and honor.'
"Awe is not fashionable these days. The calculating mind — and those who live by it — refuse the limitation that wonder and mystery imply.
" 'Awe and wonder are concepts that have fallen into extreme disfavor, if not actual contempt, in our culture. Rather than admiring what is greater and better than ourselves, we try to destroy it. We disfigure what is more beautiful than we are and ridicule what is more profound than we are and drag what is higher than we are down to our own level. We feel diminished by the existence of these things, whereas we should feel exalted. We shut ourselves off from everything that would lift us up.'
- William H. Herr
" 'Today's mystery,' runs the usual assumption, 'is tomorrow's truism.' And for the calculating mind, this is true: the only purpose of any limit, the only reason for its being, is to be overcome. But not all reality accepts calculation. Not all limits are contingent. The hammer, so useful in pounding in any kind of nail — indeed so effective for any kind of pounding — eventually meets the screw.
"Screwdrivers exist, of course. But to believe that nothing can be beyond manipulative control is to believe that the universe is composed solely of nails.
" 'A man traveled across land and sea to investigate the Master's extraordinary fame.
"What miracles has your Master worked?" he asked a disciple.
"Well, there are miracles and then there are miracles, the disciple replied. In your land it is regarded as a miracle if God does someone's will. In our country, it is regarded as a miracle if someone does the will of God." ' "