Amazement doesn’t add up

I am amazed when what I am in the presence of doesn’t immediately add up. It is not the concrete particular, not something about some thing but the general furniture of the world that carries me into amazement. Then, the world presents itself to me as a mystery, full and true. I didn’t know that–. I had no idea that–. I couldn’t fathom, till now, how great is that which is. (I probably stop thinking in amazement, but this is the sort of thing I would think if I did think.)

Amazement presents the discrepancy between the appearance of this fullness, which is here, which is what is, and my present inability to intellectual grasp. It is here and I am here, and I don’t what to make of it except to exclaim, ‘How utterly beautiful! How glorious!’ This is what I mean when I say that the presence ‘doesn’t immediately add up.’ Here it is, and it doesn’t add up: doesn’t add up that it is here at all or how it is here. It can’t yet be accounted for, tallied up, counted, measured, fit into a pre-existing conceptual framework. I am speechless.

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An artist’s thought

Amazement.–Look with me at the man on the canvas, the one with two faces, two men or the same facing different directions. A sailor, a hardened man, a handkerchief lightly about the neck. He has no ears yet but he is equipped, beautifully so, with a firm carnivore’s jaw.

Awe the moment we stopped, feet scuffing earth no more, to stand and hear the birds and their desert song. How was it that song? Quietly merry. Was it so? It was. And did you catch their names, any of them? We weren’t then about that.

On a cold day, I clipped lavender and set these wickered branches into a glass jar which I then filled with rocks to steady them. At what angles, after some days, do the lavender flowers bend. Some upright and gazing, some turning to hang elliptically, others like swans dipping their heads underwater in search of deep fish.

Well, my friend, and now the snow is gone, some days now, and the Pink Dawn tree has finally folded to winter, crumpling up its leaves, not being so wistful as to poke up fresh buds. Thank God. Look farther out toward the distant mountains. Still snow-covered. Recall the sand beneath runner’s feet feeling like snow and the earthen bowl cradled, as always, by the concave bowl glorious and finite.

Imagine the world as if it were created out of rock and fire, out of sky, from water, each thing and all things cast and pressed and hurled into place. Do. It is an artist’s thought.

‘God cannot be amazed’

‘God cannot be amazed,’ states Josef Pieper in Happiness and Contemplation. So much the worse for God, I think.

It can be good to think about what God cannot be. God knows, so he cannot be amazed. Not ever. The Thomist Pieper:

In contemplation a mirandum is seen, that is to say, a reality which evokes amazement because it exceeds our comprehension even though we see it, and have a direct intuition of it. Amazement is possible only for one who does not yet see the whole.

A mirandum: a thing wondered at, a marvel. I see and see much, but I do not see the whole. Not yet.

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