By Father Eugene Hemerick, Catholic News Service     4/13/2021

Spring’s awesomeness has arrived. In Washington, D.C., forsythia, daffodils and tulips adorn front yards, with azaleas and dogwoods to follow. 

The stunning colors are splendid, and equally marvelous is experiencing Mother Nature give birth and dormant soil produce life. 

Synonyms for “awesome” are “amazing,” “astonishing,” “breathtaking” and “remarkable.” Within each of these concepts is the spirit of standing in the presence of wonderment. What is the cause of this awesomeness ultimately? 

It is God, who is goodness, beauty and truth. 

In Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees,” he celebrates God’s amazing creation of the tree: 

“A tree that looks at God all day,/ And lifts her leafy arms to pray;/ A tree that may in summer wear/ A nest of robins in her hair;/ Upon whose bosom snow has lain;/ Who intimately lives with rain./ Poems are made by fools like me,/ But only God can make a tree.” 

Inspiring thoughts like this reveal life’s better side. Why is it then that many of today’s people do not enjoy real awe, a feeling that radiates with the heavenly? 

One reason is we live in a technical, secular culture in which a sense of being God’s creature living in God’s awesome creation is missing. A sense that we are a holy creation of God and are surrounded by God’s astonishing creation is absent. 

It is true that people experience awesomeness, but often it is superficial ersatz emotion — excitement, that, though momentarily strong, is neither fruitful nor lasting. Take for example, movies filled with awesome feats and tender love that quickly fade once the sensations die. How then is lasting, godly awesome cultivated? 

In German, “wahrnehmen” means to receive the truth — to receive into oneself, to submit to the influence of things, to place oneself within their grasp, to see and perceive. 

In the Canticle of Daniel, we are invited to practice “wahrnehmen”: “Everything growing on earth, bless the Lord. … Seas and rivers, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.” 

The awesome list of God’s creations invites us to enter into God’s awesomeness, to grasp it and submit to how blessed we are to participate in it, to experience awesome holiness. 

Equally important, when we enter into God’s astounding creation, we are elevated to an exhilarating level of wonderment.