If you’re like me, then you’ve probably enjoyed feelings of wonder or admiration or even awe when experiencing something new or gaining some fresh insight into something “old”. If that is true, then perhaps you have also known the feeling of gradually losing these initial internal stirrings and then settling into a state of indifference. There are many reasons we may become de-sensitized: stress, needs, distractions and so on; but I have found a common culprit, in my experience, to be over-familiarity.
Einstein said: The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
The first time I was here, I thought it was beautiful. The scenery, the salubrious breeze, the birds flying so close by. Almost enjoyable. Almost spiritual. But today I am frightened. Frightened because my journey to this place, my climb, did not fill me with excitement and the expectation that soon the climb would be over and I would sit atop this mountain that I would have, once again, conquered; to breathe the air of God, to behold His marvelous creation, to sing a new song, write a new work or to just revel in the experience.
Today, the climb was (and I dread to use the word)- routine. Every step perfected with practice. Not contemplating the mysteries of muscle function or the Providence in the friction between my shoes and these concrete steps giving me grip and preventing me from cascading helplessly and riotously into a broken heap at the bottom of this flight. Not considering that the air I now breathe so casually and automatically could, but a few days ago, have been caressing the cheeks of The Sphinx of Egypt or carrying the voice of a loving mother in prayer for her children. Not celebrating the miracle of life. Not growing and not discovering. It was like any other day I had been there, I thought. But oh! Was I wrong! For every other time, each step had meant something, each breath so filling and every image captivating. I wonder how often we have allowed this subtle thief to pry into our hearts and to veil our hearts from the things truly beautiful; these elements of our world and the people with whom we share them. The sunrise, the breeze, the birds, the trees; the chatter, the silence, the strangers, the ambience.
Could I truly have used up all of its novelty? Perhaps appreciated and pensively considered all its elements. What about the distant haze, the sounds and colors? What about the grain of sand? No! There simply can be no exhausting of the surfaces upon which God has so kindly and deliberately inscribed, so clearly and indelibly, “ I AM!”