(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
November 3, 2019

“AWE” and “Generosity” are friends. Without “AWE” we cannot be truly generous.

I follow the blog of Susan Beaumont. Rev. Beaumont is an ordained minister within the American Baptist Churches and currently attends a Presbyterian Congregation. She is a consultant, author, coach and spiritual director.

For 9 years Susan was a Senior Consultant with the Alban Institute. Susan has also served on the faculty of two business schools, teaching graduate level courses in leadership, management and organizational behavior. We consulted with Susan when we were preparing for the transition process at Knox.

Her latest book is “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going.” Beaumont shares stories about the “in-between times.” Times when tradition fades and there is uncertainty about the future. Her love of God and of the congregations that God works through is apparent in everything she writes.

One of the key understandings that Susan shares is the importance of AWE in spiritual life.

William James says that “awe is the feeling we get when we come across something so strikingly vast in number, scope or complexity that it alters the way we understand the world.” The emotion that we call “awe” is our capacity for deep pleasure. When facing the incredible – we pause to take it all in.

The bible is filled with AWE. There are many, many, stories of people and communities encountering God. The response is almost always AWE. Think of your favourite bible story. I bet it will have AWE in it.

There are linkages between AWE and our capacity for generosity, kindness, creativity, and social connection. Research even suggests that AWE combats narcissistic behaviour. When we have regular experiences of AWE, we are increasingly oriented to the world around us and less invested in individual goals and agendas.

Church is about AWE. We have to work really hard to make the Creator of the universe boring and mundane, yet many congregations manage to do this.

Awe can be triggered by prayer and worship, natural wonders, great works of art, music, architecture, brilliant colours, remarkable human accomplishments, or mind-expanding theories. Falling in love can be AWE.

AWE makes us feel small. But not in a negative way. We simply get clear about our own relative insignificance in the grander scheme of the universe.

Awe serves a distinct purpose. It elicits our capacity for deep pleasure in the face of the incredible. AWE calms us so that we can fully absorb our environment.

When did you find AWE? Where do you think you will find it again? Could you imagine AWE at church?

Generosity* for me, and I think for most people, comes best when we encounter AWE.

God is the ultimate AWE in our lives. Jesus Christ is the greatest gift. AWE! Thank you.