The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Those of us who have lived for years in places where the primary lights in the night sky come from the line up of airplanes approaching the nearest airport may not comprehend the breadth and depth of what the psalmist was expressing in this psalm. But if we have had the opportunity to view the night sky without the intrusion of city lights, even once, we may understand the experience in which such poetry is rooted.
The heavens declare the glory of God. The heavens speak to us in the same language they speak to everyone everywhere. They speak of the grandeur, the power, the beauty of God.
This breathless wonder we experience in response to God’s creation is the prayer of awe.
Awe is a prayer we pray not only when we are able to see the vastness of the night sky. It might also be something we experience at surprising times. Awe can take hold of us while gazing at a newborn infant. It can touch us as we witness the transformation of someone once characterized by arrogance into someone who demonstrates open hearted compassion. It can even come in moments of facing a life threatening diagnosis, when the wonder of the gift of life becomes so tangible that we are filled with joy.
Awe moves us out of our myopic perspective—out of our small drama in which we are always at center stage. It moves us to a deeper, fuller vision of who we are as creatures and a deeper, fuller vision of God our Creator.
Awe allows us to glimpse God’s beauty, God’s power, God’s goodness and love.
Awe frees us to let go of trying to play God in our lives and in the lives of others. It frees us to be the dependent creatures we are. It frees us to find joy in the beauty of God.
Much of the time we are like the person who walks along the road of life with our eyes on the path before us, our minds full of our plans and our worries. But once in a while we stop and look around us and above us and we remember. We remember the wonder of the gift of life. We glimpse something of the beauty of God. And we are lifted out of our limited vision at least for a moment. We are lifted into awe.
Maker of all that is,
Creator of the galaxies
Giver of life,
open my eyes
to glimpse your beauty,
your glory all around me.
Open my mind and heart
Think of a time when you felt awe. Reflect on that time for a few minutes. Allow your mind and heart to respond to the beauty and glory of God.
from An Enduring Embrace: Experiencing the Love at the Heart of Prayer,
by Juanita Ryan, 2012