The famous Jewish rabbi Abraham Heschel said that there are two possible ways of knowing and responding to the world: the way of reason and the way of wonder. The way of reason, he argues, seeks to eliminate mystery and bring the world under our control. The way of wonder, on the other hand, accepts the mysteries of life and responds with something we learned as children but forgot as adults: awe.

It would be easy to think of reason and wonder as mutually exclusive but they’re not. They are, however, distinct. Professor David Brenner suggests that we must use both faculties to encounter the world. In fact, by doing so we know in ways that neither alone makes possible. When we approach from the foundation of reason we attempt to tame the world and thereby control it. If, before we approach from reason, we retain our ability to be amazed, we can avoid the impulse to control what we encounter. As Brenner says, “Theories and explanations separate us from astonishment and close the doorway to mystery and the sacred. Only wonder allows us to be truly open to the world.”

When it comes to the Eastertide and the reality of the resurrection, knowing by the way of wonder get US instead of us simply getting IT. Reverence for life is what allows for openness and awe. It gives us room to encounter life in all its uniqueness. When all of life is treated as sacred, wonder can burst upon us as it did for Mary and the disciples that first Easter morning.

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