Ache and Awe


Just a word of warning – I am feeling like I am becoming a Carrie Newcomer obsessive.  But I am so grateful for the timing of her music and poetry coming into my life over the last 6-7 months.  In two of her songs – Where the Light Comes Down and Stones in the River, she refers to the “ache and awe” of life.   

From Where the Light Comes Down:

It took awhile before I saw
That the world is mostly made of ache and awe

From Stones in the River

The empty self still hears a call
To live in the center of the ache and awe
It’s there the hope of the whole world shines

In her book of poetry where she writes about the first song, she shares a story from a poem called Monet Refuses the Operation:

In the beautiful poem “Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller, the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet tells the eye doctor that he does not want the cataract surgery that would restore his eyes.  He says it took an entire lifetime to learn to see the world as he does now.  What the doctor considers an affliction is actually the outcome of long work and effort. It takes a long time to see the world as mostly made of light and to sense ache and awe at every turn. It takes practice, forgetting and remembering to learn how to pay attention to small things. There is great reward as well as a cost to living such a life. But for the painter, it could not have been any other way.

Newcomer, Carrie. The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems, Essays and Lyrics (p. 94). Available Light Publishing. Kindle Edition.)

Ache and awe.  Both are a part of it all.  I have been doing a practice for the last several years about sharing daily gratitudes in my journal but I have noticed over the last few months that I have also been using that time to also write about needs, concerns, hurts, or…aches.  I feel like it is a message that the Spirit has been sending me about how to integrate both.  Yes, I need to be one who is intentionally looking for gratitudes in life.  But at the same time, I need to honor the aches of life as well – in my life, in the lives of others, in the life of the world as a whole.  It is all in there together.  Just as the the poem, reflection, and these songs speak of them both together, so the Psalms speak of this – honestly lifting up the aches of life but also holding up the awe – sometimes in the very same Psalm.  God honors and holds them both (and everything in between).  

Take some time to listen to these two songs (linked above) and read the poem – what are your aches?  What are your awes?  

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