How to up your awe-o-meter
Just before you get too excited – this is not a post on how to be more awesome. Sorry. This is a post on how to be more open to the experience of ‘wow’ – but not in a marketing way where every good business has worked out their ‘wow factor’. No. ‘Wow’ as in gobsmacked, brain-reduced-to-jelly, stunned in all-out awe.
When’s the last time something left you literally speechless, wordless, expressionless? And I’m not talking about an indignant “how could someone do that…?!”
There’s something you can do to find yourself ‘in awe’ more often.
A Gift of the Spirit
I’ve been meeting up with this kid, helping him prepare for Confirmation. Today we looked at the ‘Gifts of the Spirit’ as Isaiah 11 lays them out. You know the deal: wisdom, understanding, right-judgement, fortitude, knowledge, reverence and awe. So, of course, we had a chat about what they meant. And when we came to the last one, I remembered an experience from a few years ago when I was in the NSW country town of Parkes.
There’s not a whole lot there, but there is a big dish. As in the big satellite dish featured in the movie ‘The Dish’. And there’s a mini museum of sorts on site – and that’s where I saw something that just blew me away.
Bigger than…well, anything
There were a series of cases with 3D representations of various scales of the universe. First, our neck of our solar system: Earth dwarfed by the sun. Then the whole of our solar system: distance starting to look crazy and it’s still the beginning. Then our solar system with a few other stars, the closest of which being light years away. Then the way-too-big to be to scale but still inconsequentially small speck of our solar system as part of the Milky Way. Then seeing the Milky Way as a cute little swirl within a cluster of galaxies: we’re now talking a space of 10 million light years (or 3.1 megaparsecs if you want geek speak). Then seeing that this cluster, sometimes called The Local Group (yeah just like the small pub on the corner…), is actually also part of a cluster of clusters (supercluster): anywhere from 100 million light years to a billion light years in diameter. There’s then a whole bunch of these – like a massive bunch of these – that make up the known universe.
(Actually you should seriously just click this link now for a visual diagram that’s something like what I saw.)
Pause for dramatic effect.
Now obviously my blow by blow description isn’t doing justice to the stuff I saw, which in no way does justice to the actual reality but…hopefully…you’re experiencing a little bit of “mind = blown” right now…
But let’s go a little further.
Scientists are generally in consensus that a ‘Big Bang’ is the most likely explanation for the beginning of the universe. And they’ve worked out fun little equations that show the expansion of the universe and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes absolutely no sense to me. BUT they don’t like what happens to the equation at the moment of the Big Bang. Because at this point, energy = infinity (and apparently scientists don’t like that value in an equation).
Who cares? What does that mean? It means that the energy required to begin the universe would literally have had to have been infinite. No limit. Unmeasureable.
And we worship that God in a little building made with human hands, offering feeble words to express praise to a being so infinitely beyond our capacity to grasp.
And He – that God who created the inconceivably vast universe with infinite power – He became a teeny weeny itsy bitsy little human. And by doing so shared His divinity with you. And if you’re Catholic you believe that He is present to you in a simple. piece. of. bread.
That you eat.
Crazy. No wonder people think we’re nuts.
Up your awe-o-meter
So here’s 4 steps to up your awe-o-meter…
- Go back to that multi-frame diagram of the universe and zoom in
- Spend time looking at each picture, thinking about the growing vastness
- Get to the last frame
- This is just a reflection of the God who loves you
Question: If 1 is “God is just a three letter word” and 10 is “I’m so in awe I’m levitating”, what’s you’re awe-o-meter been averaging lately? What else could you do to get it higher? You can comment by clicking here.