Astonished - To be filled with sudden wonder or amazement.
For several years I have emphasized that one of the most important works of youth workers is to nurture environments. I hesitate to confidently say we must create "environments of transformation" because it is the Holy Spirit who works transformation and not our ability to create the right recipe or formula in an environment. However, I believe that we embrace the reality that we are created imago dei when we co-operate with our Triune God to nurture and co-create environments where transformation can readily occur.
I love to give myself to creating environments that can lead to people being ASTONISHED by God. Sometimes, in fact, many times I am the recipient of this kind of ASTONISHMENT.
Every day at 11:45 our Youthfront staff gathers for Midday Prayer in our Prayer Chapel. This space has become Sacred in the sense that it is "set apart" for a place to worship God, pray, meditate on Scripture and listen to the Holy Spirit. The rhythm of going to this place, this space day after day often is more about discovering God in the mundane but it is also a place of surprise and ASTONISHMENT.
Yesterday, I did not expect to be ASTONISHED by God - to be filled with sudden wonder or amazement - but I was. We were repeatedly singing a simple but beautiful scripture inspired song "there can be no greater love than to lay down our lives for those we love." In front of our little chapel is the Cross of San Damiano. This crucifix features our Lord Jesus on the Cross but not in a realist way which focuses on the fact that "he was more marred than any other man." This Crucifix instead focuses on the even more powerful reality that Jesus death on the cross was not something that just happened to him but something that our Lord willingly submitted to for the Salvation of the World. Jesus is seen calmly and peacefully on the Cross purposefully dying for the World. The overwhelming truth that there is no greater love than the love of Jesus Christ who gave his life willingly for those he loves ASTONISHED me afresh and anew.
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory.