Anne Lamott is the author of a little book titled Help Thanks Wow. Lamott subtitled the book “The Three Essential Prayers.” The Wow part is where we are consistently amazed and in awe of the miracles that surround us both large and small, day-in and day-out. She suggests that this part of the essential prayer is often uttered with a gasp or a sharp intake of breath, when we can’t think of another way to capture the sight of shocking beauty or an unbidden insight or an unexpected flash of grace. “Wow means we are not dulled to wonder,” she posits.
Soon, those of us who are fortunate enough to call this little patch of EARTH here in western Kentucky home, will be witness to a magnificent spatial phenomenon. In August 2017 we will be smack dab in the middle of an earth, moon, and sun event that no doubt will leave us with open mouths, wide eyes, and a mind-blowing view of one of the universe’s unique occurrences. As we watch our sun blocked from sight on August 21, no doubt we will be filled with that sense of wonder that defies description and often leaves us speechless.
“Wows come in all shapes and sizes,” writes Lamott. “There are the lower case wows like the best sandwich ever or fresh cotton sheets without a wrinkle. Then there are the upper case wows like Yosemite and fireworks. And let’s not even get into the planets. You could have a nervous breakdown when you learn there are a hundred other universes. The only good news is that we somehow ended up on the one planet where someone thought up Monopoly and Oreos.” Agreed!
When we are stunned to the place beyond words, be it strawberry pie or Picasso, we’re getting somewhere. It is so much more comfortable to think that we know what it all means, what to expect, and how it all comes together. When an aspect of life takes us away from being able to reduce everything down to a manageable size, then we say, “Wow.”
I relish that feeling. Because at the juncture of the unknown and the incomprehensible, you arrive at a miraculous place. That means you’re continually learning and reaching for something beyond the mundane.
“There is always a place I can take someone’s curiosity and land where they end up enlightened when we’re done,” says Neil deGrasse Tyson. “That’s my challenge as an educator. No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.”
The best of LIFE is the new, the unexplained, the unimaginable. For a couple of minutes in August, 2017 we will all share an experience of epic proportions, and there will be nothing left to say but . . . Wow.