Monday, January 08, 2007

Wonder and Amazement


long beach, originally uploaded by patryfrancis.


(Photo by Ted)

Yesterday, I did something I probably don't do often enough: I went to church!

Though it was a restrained Catholic Mass, I sang as loud as I could, and I even swayed a little to the music. I figure if you're going to do church, you should do it to the max.

A few people looked at me strangely, but a few others smiled and sang louder, too.

I also heard an awe-inspiring homily--about the subject of well, awe. The priest began by suggesting that everyone go out and look at the stars at least once a day.

When he said there wasn't nearly enough awe in today's world, I had to restrain myself from shouting "Amen!"

"If people don't have Wonder and Amazement in their lives, the world becomes increasingly violent," he said. I found that pretty profound.

On the way out of church, I told him I was going to quote him on my blog. Not sure he knew what a blog was, but he smiled like a man who was very familiar with the stars.

43 comments:

Carmi said...

Amen. It's the different between simply surviving and living. If people took the time to drink in the wonder around them, perhaps there'd be less strife.

Wishful thinking, I know. But what are we without wishes?

Thanks for the timely reminder, and the as always gorgeous words and imagery.

Carmi said...

Yes, love those typos...

DIFFERENCE.

As I just spent two days driving from Florida to Ontario, I, too, am seeing my keyboard in a blur. Gotta double-check the typing next time :)

kenju said...

How true!

rdl said...

Amen sister!

Peter said...

Patry, I love your last sentence!

Patry Francis said...

carmi: I believe wishes and hopes are the first steps toward change. Thanks for sharing yours! (And don't worry about typos here. Mine proliferate like mold spores.)

kenju: Thank you--

r: If you'd been there, we both could have chanted amen.

peter: From another man who is very familiar with the stars, that means a lot.

Becca said...

Wonder and awe ... it is so hard to find those in a culture that seems to be awash in cynicism. But much to wonder about and be in awe of ... I dance a bit in church, too!

marja-leena said...

What an inspiring post! And the photo - wow!!

mikaelah said...

love this post!

tom said...

hey patry...very nice. Keep going, as you never know when you may hit upon inspiration.
I took the trash out tonight, and paused to look up.
The sky couldn't have been any sharper, the stars like spokes in a wheel....paused a while, in the cold.
glad I looked up.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Sing it.

Patry Francis said...

becca: There are so many things to be cynical about (and I sometimes give in to them.) But in the end those things give way to all the causes for wonder and amazement.

marja-leena: It really is a magical photo, isn't it?

mikaelah: Thanks and welcome!

tom: Nice to see you blogging again. I enjoyed taking that walk out to the trash with you, and seeing those great wheeling stars.

mindy: If I really did, you wouldn't want to hear it. My voice is notorious...

floots said...

love that picture

strange - i found myself thinking that i didn't agree (my little boy who was forced to go to church side)
but then i got to that splendid last line and realised that i did

dunno if that made sense :)

Sky said...

patry, the photography is awe-inspiring!

oh yes, wonder keeps us contemplating the mysteries, exploring our surroundings, and appreciating the greatness in our world. :)

Bernita said...

He's absolutely right.

zhoen said...

I'm just loving the idea of you rocking out at a Catholic mass...

Natalie said...

That is indeed a cool Padre - I haven't heard such a relevant sermon in...well, ever.
I made a sort of sculpture/tableau some years ago of Augustine sitting in the bath with a giant bluebird. Aug.says "What is the meaning of this?" The bird answers: "You are forgetting to be amazed".
My philosophy of life is to ner forget to be amazed and in awe.
You are an inspiration.

The Curmudgeon said...

My father was educated by the Jesuits and his undergraduate degree was a Ph.B. (Bachelor of Philosphy -- not one you hear about much these days). He was steeped in Aquinas.

But his proof of the existence of God? A starry night in the country.

Wonder and awe indeed.

Fred Garber said...

"Y con tu espiritu"...When I sing at mass, I sing with enthusiasm but not too loud. Kind of a learned behavior. Music teachers, family members and various dogs have all complained about the quality of my singing. So, I say bravo for you Patry. And bravo for your Padre and bravo for the stars in the sky! Now go in peace!

Amber said...

Wonderful post. I have read that we should walk with our toes in the soil once a day, too... I agree with both thoughts!

I came from reading yoru interview with Delia. Congrats on the book. Your interview was inspiring to me, as a mom with little ones sucking the creative life force from my bones! ;)

:)

Tarakuanyin said...

It sounds like you throw yourself into the atmosphere of mass like my good friend does. She sings and sways, and her awe and wonder are an inspiration to me, as was your post. Thanks.

ruby said...

wonder and awe...love that. i also loved reading your interview over at just be connected...i love reading about the writer's process...thanks so much for your continued support and encouragement at my blog!

Patry Francis said...

floots: Contradiction makes perfect sense to me. That's why I love poetry so much.

sky: Ted took that photo a while back, but I was saving it for the right post. I love it too!

bernita: Thank you!

zhoen: Ted wanted you all to know that he was rocking out with me. In fact, tonight we had an argument over who started rocking first...(I did.)

natalie: I remember that marvelous tableau! You are truly a kindred spirit.

curmudgeon: I've always admired the Jesuits. Your father sounds like a fascinating man...

fred: Oh, Fred...I sing very badly, too, but in church, I always hope that even when I sing loudly, I'll blend in, or that the joy will carry me over the high notes. Peace to you, too, my friend.

amber: Yes to toes in the soil! This winter has been so warm in New England that we've been able to walk barefoot on the beach some days. So nice to see you here!

tarakuanyin: Thank you. So often in the past, I've complained about the lack of joy or spirit at church. But the lack, surely, was in myself.

ruby: Doing the interview with Delia was a wonderful experience. I love the spirit at Create a Connection. Definitely a place of wonder.

Laini Taylor said...

I'm not the teensiest wee bit religious and can't remember the last time I was in a church (most likely it was for a wedding), but that sermon sounds pretty great. I'm all for awe and wonder!

Tinker said...

What a beautiful photo, sermon and post! I was reminded of stars earlier today - thank you and the Padre for reminding me again.

Irene said...

Amen to that post...

Paris Parfait said...

Lovely story! Thanks for sharing it.

robin andrea said...

When I was young I wished that we could see the stars during the day. I thought if we could, we would always know that we were on a planet whirling through the universe. Yes, stars and awe.

Patry Francis said...

laini: "Wonder and awe" sound like a great religion to me!

tinker: Any day you contemplate the stars more than once is a day well-lived.

Irene: Thanks, momster!

tara: My pleasure...and thank YOU for being here to read it.

robin andrea: It's amazing how easily we forget.

AscenderRisesAbove said...

you are a wonderful writer. always a treat to stop by and see what you have strung together today

AnnieElf said...

Lots of inspiration at Mass when the priest is a good speaker and know how to give a good homily. I've heard my share that have put me to sleep. Now I have a priest that inspired me to bring a notebook to church. I take notes. Amazing speaker.

melba said...

Patry,
I do live on cape Cod.
Do we live near each other?
That would be so crazy wonderful!
email me and let me know
melbamcmullin@comcast.net

XO,
melba

colleen said...

That hits my funny bone, as one of a Catholic background, thinking about telling a priest that you're going to quote him on your blog. Even as a young girl I liked the sermons but never got the rest and never understood why people seemed to forget everything that was preached as soon as they went out the front door.

Jenny Rough said...

I love the last line of this post. I can never bring myself to sing in church. I sound like a dying cow.

Patry Francis said...

ascender: Anyone with your blog name clearly knows much about awe and wonder...

annie: You are fortunate indeed. My "awesome padre" was a visitor so I probably won't have a chance to hear him again.

Melba is my neighbor--and I never knew it!

colleen: I still wonder why we forget all the nice words as soon as we walk out the door. If someone could figure that out, we might really have world peace.

jenny: "Dying cows" unite! I sing really badly, too; maybe we should start a choir!

chiefbiscuit said...

I do like the way you put things Patry. BTW I've ordered Liar's Diary - can't wait until it arrives ! :)

Avus said...

It is, indeed, an "awe-full" world if we do but look around us.
I am agnostic, but am reminded of the words of a great poet (Edna St Vincent Millay)
"The tired agnostic longs for prayer
More than the blessed can ever do:
Between the chinks in his despair,
From out his forest he peeps through
Upon a clearing sunned so bright
He cups his eyeballs from its light."

gerry rosser said...

Don't take no church to keep me amazed.
My little granddaughter takes care of that (on those occasions when I fail to notice stars, rocks, music, etc., which don't fail at much).

Devon Ellington said...

That picture fits the definition of "awe" -- thanks for sharing it.

KG said...

That you told him that you were going to quote him on your blog, and that he seemed mystified yet accepted it, is an indication of his and your generosity of spirit. He seemed to get the spirit of your giving him credit without fully getting the blog-thing.

There are still sooo many people out there not connected to the Blogosphere at all. It's good to have this reminder every one in awhile. Perspective.

MB said...

Patry, beautiful photo, great post. I never could not sway to the music and the stars and the dance of life.

Alexandra S said...

If we can't stop to have some gratitude and stay curious and search for awe and express that awe we truly will not have a world I want to be in.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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