I’ve made up a new term – radish-ical amazement. It’s similar to radical amazement, but with the word “radish” instead.

Radical amazement, a phrase meaning “absolute astonishment,” was made popular by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel – one of the most compassionate, brilliant rabbis of the 20th century. (You’ve seen pictures of him if ever you’ve seen pictures of Martin Luther King, Jr., marching along with an ecstatic looking, white-bearded man.)

Radical amazement refers to those times when we’re in total awe at every aspect of the world. It’s during those moments when our minds are boggled with the harmony all around us.

Radish-ical amazement is similar. I experienced it one time while I was planting some radishes. I was certain my children would enjoy watching those little vegetables grow. I was wrong. Kids don’t have the time or patience to enjoy such slow, incremental growth. But I do.

When I think about a seed going into the ground, sprouting up, and becoming something else, I’m amazed by it. It’s magic, right? It gets bigger and it changes. It’s as if the dirt surrounding the roots knows to go into the plant, which changes forms and eventually becomes a radish.

The ground was just soil before I did anything to it. Then I put this little seed in, added some water, nurtured it – and the seed transformed into something else. That’s radish-ical amazement.

There is something that you may have experienced that runs counter to this awe and wonder — understanding. As Wener Erhard put it, “In life, understanding is the booby prize.”

I watch my children growing up in the same way. They don’t do it intentionally; they just grow. They are changing. They take food in their mouth, and some of it becomes them.

The same is true of us. We take food and drink into our bodies – and miraculously, our bodies turn the food into nourishment. (There is a Hebrew prayer traditionally meant to be spoken each time we use the toilet. The idea is to praise God for the various openings and openings, closings and closings in our bodies.)

This life is just amazing, and I’m struck with awe.

Spiritual-religious advice:

Take time to have radish-ical amazement for the things that grow and change in your life.

With love,

Rabbi Brian

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