| Chase Tibbs |
When I was 16 years old, my family and I embarked on a journey to the West for one final trip together. My older brother had just graduated from high school and was moving 500 miles away to start his undergraduate education. My parents saw it to be the perfect time to seize what could be the last chance for the five of us to spend two weeks together, packed tight in a Honda Odyssey, chasing the miraculous beauty of western America.
Existence itself is something we take for granted. The truth that what is is, rather than is not, is awe-inspiring. Think about it for a moment. Existence is beautiful. It may even be beauty itself. There are no words that could ever describe the intricate complexity that forms our very being, that holds the earth together, that makes up what we call the Milky Way Galaxy, that is within the dynamic relationship of electrons, neutrons, and protons. The fact that you are simultaneously many as you are also one, deserves a lifetime of humble reverence (or at least two weeks of family vacation).
It was on this Tibbs’ Summer Vacation that I began my journey of intentionally practicing reverence. Reverence is not only an action, it is a posture, a state of awareness, a way of being in the world. From the buffalo that used our minivan as a back scratcher, to the dozens of prairie dogs popping up their little heads from beneath the surface; from the mountains of Wyoming, to the great Yellow Stone National Park; from the depths of the Bad Lands, the forever plains of Kansas, and the earth pouring geysers that displayed the power of nature; we are surrounded by life, swallowed by existence, consumed by occurrences that deserve to be revered. Yes, life deserves to be revered in the very moment we experience it — maybe with a moment of silence, or a display of gratitude. But the complex simplicity of existence also calls us to relate to the cosmos in a way that says, “All of life is beautiful, in and of itself.” To revere an o/Other is not to idolize; rather, it is to acknowledge its beauty and meaning from a place of humility.
Coming from a Christian perspective, I believe God is reverent toward all of existence. If this is true, if God is in a posture of reverence towards all that is, what does this say about how I am to live in this interconnected world? How am I being called to live in relationship with the Earth, with its inhabitants, with our neighboring countries, with those with whom I am in dissension?
What does it look like for we as a human species to interact with one another and the rest of the cosmos in a spirit of reverence? Would it change anything at all? What would it mean to revere the beauty that is all around us, inside us, moving through us? A posture of reverence is a posture of deep appreciation, as opposed to a posture of shallow abuse. As Plato spoke before us, “Let [us] bequeath to [our] children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.”