Sometimes I come across a long-forgotten word that needs to be re-added to my vocabulary. It’s like a reunion with an old friend. Today, that word is “astounding.”
Astound, def: “shock or greatly surprise” (dictionary.com to the rescue)
synonyms: astonish – amaze – flabbergast – surprise – stupefy
The most astounding part of Christmas day was when my parents surprised me with a new guitar that I thought I wouldn’t be getting until after Christmas.
But actually, the most astounding part of Christmas is in its history, in the story of the first Christmas when God came to earth in the form of a baby born in a stable.
The images that come to mind here of people who are astounded are of frozen, wide-eyed people with gaping mouths and slack jaws. Sometimes hands are in the air in astonishment. I think this word is on a whole nuther level from “surprise.” You surprise someone by sticking a chocolate chip cookie and a note in their lunchbox. You astonish them by showing up in the lunchroom with President Obama, who just dropped by on Air Force One to say “Happy Birthday, Billy.”
I don’t see this word used that often, except in book and movie reviews, oddly enough. And perhaps that’s a look at my life, maybe yours too. I’m not astonished very often. I mean, I’m not some rough and tough, seen-it-all 18 year old (that’s on oxymoron right there). I do jump when people come up behind me without my knowledge. And I do jump when things happen suddenly in a movie.
But that’s surprise. I picture astonishment as a moment outside of time, where you pause – whether because something is just so extraordinary that you can’t help it or because you stop for the purpose of noticing – and allow yourself to be astonished. Maybe it’s about taking the time to be amazed.
I’m going to look for something astounding today. Let me know if you happen across anything.