Monthly Spiritual Exercises
Each month you can deepen your experience of our worship theme by engaging in the monthly spiritual exercise. If you are not part of the Soul Matters Circle, share your experience of the spiritual exercise with others on the “Friends of UCM” Facebook group, at coffee hour on Sundays, or even with your family and friends in your day-to-day life.
December 2019 Spiritual Exercises: Awe
Option A: Collect Awe Stories
One way to get more awe into our lives is to barrow it from others. That’s right, turns out we can feel awe when we listen to others share their awe stories. So this month, dive into some viarious awe. Here’s your assignment:
Collect Five Stories of Awe
Anyone is fair game. Life Partners. Parents. Siblings. Neighbors. Co-workers. Even strangers! Take them out for coffee or just ask if they have 5 minutes. Sure, you’ll be nervous. It’s a peculiar thing to ask people about. But trust us, everybody’s got a great awe story, and everybody is secretly dying to share it!
Which of those similarities or key differences spoke to you. Where was the gift (or challenge) in that for you?
Option B: Take A Daily Dose of Online Awe
We most often talk about the giant spiritual transformations that awe causes in us. For instance, that moment standing before a solar eclipse after which our entire view of God and ourselves was transformed.
These once-in-a-lifetime infusions of awe are great, but most of us wouldn’t mind a little daily support. Every single day we get stuck in our heads. Every afternoon we feel more numb than we’d like by day-to-day drudgery. And every evening it’s hard to put our petty, self-centered worries into wider perspective. Who of us wouldn’t benefit from a bit of awe every 24 hours?!
So this month, let’s all give ourselves the gift of a daily dose of awe. Think of it as taking a regular “Awe Break.” Put everything down for just a few minutes and let awe soak in.
To make it easy for you, we’ve put together 31 online doses of awe. One awe-filled YouTube video for each day of the 31 days of December. It’s a lot like those advent calendars some of us had as kids. We’d peel back the cardboard door, discover some magical new gift and our entire day would be transformed.
Here’s the link to the YouTube playlist that contains all 31 of the videos:
If you’re having a particularly hard day, feel free to cheat and watch a couple of them.
The goal is to see if these daily doses really change your days. We bet they do!
Option C: Remember the Awe of All You Are
It’s not easy to look at ourselves with awe. Awe is reserved for majestic objects outside us. But, as poet Joy Harjo reminds us, the most breathtaking and life-transforming experiences come from remembering that there isn’t really a separation between that which is “out there” and us. We are connected to the awesome world around us. Those relationships make up our “larger self.” And noticing that larger self is one of the most humbling and awe-filled experiences we can have.
So this month, let Joy Harjo lead you through the awe of your larger self, through the awe of all you are. Here’s how:
- Read over Harjo’s poem, Remember, numerous times: https://poets.org/poem/remember-0 (Another creative version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vE4yRvaW17o)
- Notice how each line represents a different part of your larger self.
- Then, following each line, one by one, find a way to engage and honor each of those various parts of yourself.
In other words, treat her poem as a list: the sky, the sun, your birth, the wind, the earth, language. Use the month to create a moment of connection with each, using Harjo’s words to help you notice how each is a dimension of you.
Option D: An Hour of Stillness
Often the easiest way to encounter awe is just to sit still. And December offers so many perfect moments to sit back and soak in awe. Put on a jacket and sit on your stoop and watch the snow fall for an hour. Go to the park and sit on a bench watching the neighborhood kids sled down the giant hill, like you used to decades ago. Take an hour to look up at the stars while your favorite classical album plays in your earphones. Take a seat in the corner of the family holiday gathering and just watch the joy and love ping pong back and forth.
The aim is to sit back and still long enough to watch some piece of life unfold before you. In its unfolding, awe inevitably shows its face.