I just returned from a ridiculously fun trip to upstate New York with friends. We’ve all known each other twenty plus years but it was incredible to be together as our “vacation selves.” For the first time I got to see Niagara Falls. Now I’m acting like I discovered it, asking everyone I know if they’ve seen the falls. I realize I’m a tad late to this game but wow!
Besides its beauty and power, it is one of the natural wonders of the world. I love that it is shared by two countries. We were able to see it from both sides, the US and Canada. In both countries people from all over the world were marveling at it with us, trying hard to capture on cellphones what was impossible to capture. It is a surround-sound and sight experience. In all our different languages, cultures, traditions, outfits, we just stood there in the mist with smiles of amazement. Shared wonder. Politics, religion, race and other barriers fell away…just wonder.
We returned from this trip to join our son in celebrating his engagement which happened that morning and we caught up with he and his fiancé for a family/friends celebration brunch. It was one of those days just awash in happiness, theirs and ours. I met a whole group of new people that morning who will now become our extended family and friendship circle. Everyone was bragging to each other that we could tell right off that this love was different and that we knew first that they would be a forever couple. Shared wonder. Shared love. Shared something bigger than all of us.
Richard Rohr writes about body prayer, a prayer that has no words but is felt on a cellular and energetic level. You are not thinking your prayer as much as energetically feeling it. Your body “receives and knows”, and is “a temple” (1 Corinthian 3:16-17) where God dwells in the Spirit. He continues, you are not doing the prayer, but you are falling into the unified field…It becomes “our prayer” not just “my” prayer . (Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond)
Nadia Bolz-Weber also touches on this idea, God’s words do what they say. So from the breath of God, the world came into being….Oceans, land, heavens, sun, moon, stars, plants, and things called sea monsters. Genesis 1:20.
She writes, It all took some time. It was a process and a strangely collaborative one at that. Rather than God doing everything, God shared the work with creation. Calling the earth to bring forth vegetation and the seas to bring forth sea monsters. God was obsessed with the idea of seeds and made a self-sustaining system inside the life God was creating….and then animals….Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image”…. (Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless)
It doesn’t matter if you believe in this creation story, this faith or something more scientific. You get the idea. There are truths that are bigger and more wonderous than any of us. There are grand things happening in nature, in families, in relationships. These truths and wonders span time and generations. These truths take us all to a higher better place where we hold some kind of expansive knowing, body prayer, celebration and community. It is no longer just mine or yours, it is ours.
Ours. Bolz-Weber writes, God the community. God the family. God the friend group. God the opposite of isolation.
Shared wonder. Shared prayer. Shared love. Shared celebration. Shared knowing. It takes us all to a higher, better place.
What if there are many more natural wonders of the world than we ever dreamed and we get to discover them together?
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor.
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