Dear Ones- In Jewish tradition, the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the “Days of Awe”. And while this year those High Holy Days fell in September and October, we have chosen “Awe” as our theme for the month of November. So for us here at UUFS, the entire month will be “days of awe”.
But what does that mean?
For Jews, the Days of Awe are time to focus on repentance- to look at their lives and to “turn themselves around”. It is a time of introspection and self-reflection. It is a time when Jewish folks try to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for wrongs done against God and against other human beings.
It is intriguing that this period of time should be described with the word “Awe”, don’t you think? I’ve actually seen others perhaps more accurately describe it as “Days of Repentance”.
But I do believe there is some wisdom in the description, as well. Self-reflection is a pretty amazing thing, isn’t it? Looking at your life, realizing that, yes, we have perhaps not lived up to our highest values, and acknowledging out short-comings, and “wiping the slate clean” to start again- that’s pretty awesome!
For Unitarian Universalists, “awe” is usually not into the idea of repentance. In fact, we don’t typically talk much about repentance and atonement, though we probably should.
Perhaps that will be a discussion for another day.
For today, I wonder, what might the word mean for Unitarian Universalists?
UU Minister Rev Carol Hepokoski writes: “Many of us experience a deep sense of awe before the mystery of life and death, those powers greater than ourselves.” She’s speaking specifically of Humanists, but I’m certain this applies to (almost) all Unitarian Universalists.
I’ve certainly felt that, and I know you have, as well. Seeing Mt. Rainier for the first time, holding our new-born children and grandson, seeing the Acropolis, hearing Holst’s “The Planets” for the first time- all of those were truly awe-inspiring events in my life.
But there have been smaller ones, as well - fireflies, bumblebees, a brilliant sunset.
Life can (and certainly should!) be filled with moments of awe- both large and small. These experiences evoke wonder and amazement. They aren't just pleasurable, they're transformative, encouraging us to contemplate the meaning of life and see ourselves as part of a larger picture.
Awe is that feeling when you stand in a dark night, look up at the sky, and see millions of stars glowing. You may not be able to define the word, but you certainly know it when you feel it.
May you find abundant moments of awe in your lives and may you recognize them when they come!
Wishing you peace and blessings,