Days of Awe
I’m not a religious person but when I was a young girl I remember learning about the Days of Repentance or Days of Atonement. Briefly, those were the first ten days of the Jewish New Year when people were supposed to be introspective and consider things done the previous year for which they had to perhaps apologize or in some way admit guilt and repent. I remember finding the whole thing daunting and depressing. I was a pretty good girl overall and didn’t think my infractions required ten days of self-flagellation. But this year I heard a new name for this period — Days of Awe. I like this much better and rather than do what a more erudite person might do and research what this actually means, I simply made something up that would be more interesting for me to investigate.
I decided I’d spend the ten days desperately seeking awe, that is to say, seeking awesome moments to recognize and acknowledge. So, yesterday I started out on my morning run on the beach and looked for awe. That shouldn’t have been too hard to find because:
- I’m on the beach.
- It’s a beautiful day.
So, in the first ten seconds I tripped over awe, or so I thought. It was actually part of a dead manta ray who had clearly been bitten by something bigger than himself as he had a big bite mark where his left side used to be. But, swimming all around the ray was a tiny school of minnows and I was awed by the nature of nature and how life and death are in a constant yin and yang dance of beauty and sadness. It was awesome in its silent story.
So, great I found a moment of awe for that day. But that turned out to be not the most awesome moment. A few strides later a little girl, perhaps about two or three years old, waved me down to stop me. She was holding out her hand to show me something she was clearly excited about as she was holding it out, saying something I couldn’t hear because I had headphones on, and dancing a happy dance only a three-year-old can do publicly. I had to stop and remove the earbud so I could hear this big announcement she was clearly trying to make.
“You can hear the ocean! Daddy says you can hear the ocean!” she said excitedly while holding out something for me to see. Of course you can hear the ocean, honey, I thought, you’re standing in it. But it seemed wrong to make fun of a three year old so I waited while she finished her announcement.
“Put this up to your ear,” she said as she handed me a shell. “My daddy says you can hear the ocean and I heard it!”
So I put the shell to my ear and sure enough I heard the ocean. And, yes, I too was standing in it so that did not come as a shock.
“Oh my!” I exclaimed. “Your daddy is so smart and he’s right. You can hear the ocean. You have the best daddy for telling you that.”
She just beamed, as did her (best) daddy.
And I had my real moment of awe. You can easily forget the depths of the bond of father and daughter in the day-to-day craziness of the world. Here was a little girl who worships and trusts her daddy so she will take every word he says as gospel. Plus she wanted to show me just how amazing her daddy is. Here was a daddy who loves his little girl enough to want to take the time to stand by the ocean and share with her the magical sounds of nature. And for that moment, they both believed the sound of the sea was contained in that little shell.
And so did I.