How to begin the year? Begin with wonder. Begin with what Rabbi Abraham Heschel referred to as Radical Amazement.
For me, radical amazement is waking up everyday, encountering myself, others and the world as if I am new. Radical amazement is what occurs when my mind is free of preconceptions about even the familiar. It then becomes inevitable to see beauty and mystery even in the seemingly mundane. I am reminded of a statement by Yeshua: “blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” They see God without and within because they are free of assumptions within.
Even if you want to study the scriptures more or pray more or listen more or love more, it will do you no good if you do not start with wonder, if you do not come from radical amazement, from unknowing. Even the thought of God requires an approach that sees God afresh, as though we did not think of Him yesterday, as though this is the first time the thought of God crossed our minds, as though we do not know God. We should come to ourselves, our spouses, our children, our siblings and friends as though we are new to them, like children approach the world. We should approach our work as though we are new to it.
Radical amazement does not erase what we know of the mysterious, it only considers it nothing compared to what there is to know because infinity – x = infinity.
This is a good way to start the year, a good way to approach the scriptures, to approach ourselves and the world as I said in this 2.5-min video. We should come amazed at the fact that we can come at all.
Radical amazement requires an openness to the possibility of being surprised by God, by ourselves and even the people closest to us, simply because God is infinite as are His images, and therefore totally unknowable or to put it less radically, there is always more to know. It is therefore amazing that we can even begin to know that which Apostle Paul referred to as “surpassing knowledge”. Radical amazement makes gratitude inevitable.
Rabbi Heschel wrote,
“Radical amazement has a wider scope than any other act of man. While any act of perception or cognition has as its object a selected segment of reality, radical amazement refers to all of reality; not only to what we see, but also to the very act of seeing as well as to our own selves, to the selves that see and are amazed at their ability to see”
What a time as the beginning of the year to begin with wonder. Beginning everyday with wonder guarantees the year will be full of wonder and wonders. May it be so.