As I read Chapter 6 of Mark’s gospel, the word amazed caught my attention (Mark 6:6), and I let my mind wander to times I have been amazed.
I usually think of amazement connected with beautiful things like sunrises or art or performances—delightful things that touch my heart—but in this passage, Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.
I wondered how Jesus would react to my faith: would he be amazed at the strength of my faith or at the lack of it?
Then another scripture passage came to mind: Mary and Joseph were amazed at what was said about their son when he was presented in the Temple. (Luke 2:33) This is an amazement I can more easily relate to—something someone says that startles me, new information that shifts my perspective, a new insight. I can imagine Mary and Joseph thinking, “Is he talking about our son?”
Like the practice of noticing what I notice, being amazed can help me live in the present moment and appreciate the world around me.
Too often, I let things pass by without taking note or fully acknowledging the gift of God in them. Not just sunrises or art or performances, but also acts of kindness and compassion, words of encouragement or praise and good deeds done selflessly.
But, I am trying to be more aware, to pause and notice the goodness around me and to thank God for all the generosity I see.
I work at a cancer support center where emotions can be like a roller-coaster ride. One person receives good news at the same time someone else receives bad news. One person’s treatment is successful and another’s is not. It can be difficult to take it all in and stay present.
Recently, one of our members brought in chocolates for our front desk, and a few days later, another brought flowers.
Both of these women are in difficult situations, each facing surgery and each dealing with complications that create uncertainty for their futures. They are both in physical pain.
Yet, there they were bearing gifts. Their selflessness and generosity amazed me. Even in the midst of difficulty and uncertainty, they were magnanimous.
Their kindness and thoughtfulness touched me deeply and made me wonder if I would think of others if I were in a similar position. Would I be able to be so generous if I were facing difficult surgery? Or would my thoughts be focused on myself, my fears and vulnerability?
I imagine that both of these women have been practicing generosity for a long time, so it is a part of who they are and how they live. They are generous without needing thanks or even acknowledgement. They do it for themselves, because they are following some internal impulse toward generosity. Amazing.
In the following days their acts of generosity, the most often-asked questions at work were, “Who brought in the chocolates?” and “Who brought in the flowers?” Others noticed. And appreciated. Simply amazing.