What do you do with wonder and awe? How do you release the inner tension it creates? How to you ease the reverence, respect, dread, and weakness of heart that grips the soul in a gridlock of conflicting feelings of sadness and joy?
I have this sense of awe and wonder when I see my grandkids coming up the walk. But thankfully it is easing by throwing my arms around them and their gentle kisses on my cheek.
I have this sense when Hub gives me an unexpectedly card or bouquet, and I ease it with a blend of smiles and tears, mutual joy, and his hovering presence. I have this sense when my double peony blooms, but it eases as the blossom over-ripes. And so, for such situations, there is a way of escape.
And that be all good and well, but the tension and tight grip of awe and wonder is not so easily resolved in other situations. There are many for which there is no release.
I remember when Hub and I went on vacation one fall. I remember seeing snow-capped purple mountains shoed with golden russet trees bordering a glistening turquoise lake in west coast country. I remember how it was and how the tension of wonder and awe gripped my heart and mind and soul. So tight that it was racking, throbbing, and tormenting.
I feel the agony and ecstasy of that tension again, when I recall the loveliness of it all. But there was no way to release the tension when it hit.
I recall at the time when Hub and I stopped at the edge of those emerald waters how driven I felt to fling myself on the grass, and pound my fists on the soil, and kiss the ground, and weep. All of which I could not do, must not do, as such a reaction would inflict Hub with an even greater torment and tension—over the well-being of my mind and health.
But there just has to be a way to release the tension of wonder and awe. It comes upon me with a gentle wash that ever increases in temperature and duration till I feel scalded, but yet there is no escape. No release—from the joy coupled with dread. I almost hate it. It leaves me in spasms of sadness and gladness interchanging at breakneck speed—like a Drop of Doom roller-coaster ride.
Now it’s been years, close to eons, since last I read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” I read it again last night. I wept with sorrow, then cried with joy, as I did that first time I read it as a child—the line that I love, that breaks me so into pieces is that gentle, sweet, most lovely line— “and when I awoke, it rained.”
And now, from that reading, this morning and through the night, I have been racked with the painful conflict of heart-sorrow and head-joy. And rather than abating, the tension of wonder and awe goes on and on. I am as close to the brink of frenzied hilarity as I am to the brink of a grand and copious wash of tears.
The tension is as like to a dead albatross around my neck as anything can be. In fact, I think this poem mirrors the tension of awe and wonder and in doing that, only increases my awe-and-wonder tension. God, I almost wish I had a toothache or a pulsing migraine to distract me from the absolute beauty and total horror of that poem that I so recently read.
But how can I find release? Hug the book. That isn’t going to work.
Kiss the page. That isn’t going to work.
Erase the poem—can’t do that either.
It is emblazoned with permanence in my mind.
I want and I need to be free of this tension. It is hampering me. It is crippling me. It is tormenting me. But how, pray how, can it be done?
Maybe if I read the poem three more times. Do you think?