Gifts of the Dark Wood: The Gift of Being Thunderstruck

William Blake: God and Job

“At this my heart pounds
and leaps from its place.
Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.
After that comes the sound of his roar;
he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
he holds nothing back.
God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.

Job 37:1-5

This post is adapted from a sermon by Rev. Jana Purkis-Brash, Sunday, March 19, 2017, Princeton United Methodist Church. It is part of a sermon series based on the book by Eric Elnes: Gifts of the Dark Wood: Seven Blessings for Soulful Skeptics (and Other Wanderers), a guidebook for spirituality in a post-Christian world.

Awe is often translated to fear, but it can also mean a mysterious encounter with the numinous —  Ancients thought the sense of awe could carry gods messages from the divine. Imagine the awe of those experiencing the eruption of a volcano, an earthquake, a storm. They created gods so they could feel control over a hostile universe.

When we feel awe, our inner god, we have flashes of intuition .We call our moments of clarity and understanding  – seeing the light – sudden flashes  – being dumbstruck.

Scientists say that opening ourselves to awe – like children do- reduces stress and increases creativity.

Allow time for awe! The wonder of morning light can give a sense of holiness. Or the touch of a baby’s skin.

By taking the time to notice these Creation moments, we can cultivate a sense of holy inner wisdom. Moses and Elijah heard God’s audible voice, but we can try to cultivate an inner awareness.

The psalmists say the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Our encounter with the numinous may make us be humble and open us to the gifts of God’s grace – but the inner voice can also cause us to stand tall As in Psalm 8,  

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    mortals[a] that you care for them? 

Pay attention to your wow moments. Let them help you feel connected and alive. May you hear that voice in the thunder and the silence in the quiet awesome moments of wow.

Or — be thunderstruck. Be aware of God’s presence. Connect the inner you – to God’s voice in that moment – and listen to God’s word for you,