A few days ago, I was talking to one of my seminary buddies. Her internship is in New Mexico, to where she moved from the Midwest, and this year, she will spend her second Christmas season there. She said she generally really loves New Mexico, but Christmas in the heat --- that’s just weird.
And as she talked about this, I was flooded with awe. Awe at the human capability to adapt, to build a home, to blend in. Because listening to my friend reminded me how when I moved to California a little over ten years ago, I had felt the same. Palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights were pretty and exotic, but not Christmassy. Walking from the warmth into a store and hearing “White Christmas” blasted from the speakers was paradoxical. And Glühwein, a German mulled wine that had been a Christmas flavor for me since… well, not quite childhood, but following shortly after – neither fit with the California weather nor the general environment.
But now, California Christmas is home, twinkly palm trees and all. In fact, it feels more like home than the wintery Christmases of my childhood. And it is now here that my warm weather Christmas traditions give me moments of awe and wonder.
We feel awe when we feel small, but not alone. We feel awe when we feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. Awe is when the seventh principle manifests itself momentarily, when it widens our eyes and our perspective and allows us a glimpse of the big picture while still firmly and gently holding us right where we are, protecting us from getting lost in these wondrous swirls. Awe tells us that the universe is grand, and that we belong.
And sometimes we may feel that we don’t belong – for a short while, because we’ve moved to a new place that alters what our beloved holiday traditions look like, or for bigger, more significant, or sadder reasons. Sometimes, too, the world does not seem wondrous, but drab, or doomed.
And yet – awe will find you, eventually. Because this is a beautiful, wondrous place. And you belong.