Spirit Matters: Have you drank your cup of awe today?

Every once in a while, I encounter a piece of writing that leaves me in stunned silence.

As I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed early Friday morning, I saw a post from artist and writer Robyn Gordon sharing a work by Chelan Harkin. Gordon frequently shares various images of art and nature, with an accompanying related text. Her posts are designed to help reveal the infinite variety of styles, textures, colors, shapes ... everywhere.

I never fail to be touched to the core by what she shares.

Most of us go about our days, and our lives, oblivious to the wondrous world around us.

We drive to and from work, soccer practice, or the grocery store, with music on and thoughts rumbling thunderously through our heads, failing to recognize the Creator Spirit trying to woo our hearts ... with all manner of artistry.

When was the last time you walked down a business district sidewalk and noticed a persistent purple flower had broken through a crack?

This happened to me one day years ago when I was walking in downtown Ottawa. Taking a quick break from the newsroom at The Times building, I was heading to Jeremiah Joe, only to look down and see this lovely little being greeting me.

Another time, at the Streator Times office, I was walking to the former Streator Drugs across Bloomington Street, when I happened to look down and see what remained of a leaf, in the shape of a heart.

Both of these instances were perfectly timed for me, to give me the little boost I needed then and there. I even took pictures to remind me how soul nourishing it can be to behold Beauty in the midst of a monotonous or chaotic workday.

Not only did that purple flower break through the concrete sidewalk, it broke through the concrete heart I was carrying around in my chest. That heart-shaped leaf remnant reminded me when my life seems irreparably fragmented, to return to my heart space, my center of gravity.

I have used Gerard Manley Hopkins’ quote, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” in this space enough to make it sound like a cliché.

It is not.

Nothing about our vast, diverse, colorful, intricate, wondrously beautiful universe – every particle of it bearing the fingerprint of Divine Wisdom – could possibly be a cliché.

Finally, this piece is a reminder that just when we think we have all the answers, we don’t.

We don’t.

Let us, in all humility, remember our finite brains were molded by an infinitely perfect intelligence, and as such, surrender with a touch of human wisdom, to Wisdom and Beauty, itself.


You don’t have to believe in God

but please collapse in wonder

as regularly as you can

try and let your knowledge

be side swiped by awe

and let beauty be so persuasive

you find yourself willing

to lay your opinions at her feet

Darling, you don’t have to believe in God

but please pray

for your own sake

great prayers of thanks

for the mountains, the great rivers

the roundness of the moon

just because they’re here at all

and that you get to know them

and let prayer bubble up in you

as a natural thing

like song in a bird

You don’t have to have

a spiritual path

but do run

the most sensitive

part of your soul

over the soft curves

of this world

with as much tenderness

as you can find in yourself

and let her edgeless ways

inspire you to discover more

just find a way

that makes you want to yield


that you may be more open

to letting beauty fully

into your arms

and feel some sacred flame

inside of you that yearns toward

learning how to build a bigger

fire of love in your heart

You don’t have to believe in God

but get quiet enough to remember

we really don’t know a damn thing

about any of it

and if you can, feel a reverence to be part

of This Great Something

whatever you want to call it

that is so much bigger

and so far beyond

the rooftops of all

our knowing

— Chelan Harkin, “Susceptible to Light”

SPIRIT MATTERS is a weekly column that examines experiences common to the human spirit. Contact Jerrilyn Zavada Novak at jzblue33@yahoo.com to share how you engage your spirit in your life and community.