The Power of a Click

There seem to be moments, every now and then, which grab us. An idea pops  up in our mind, and  it shines so bright and obvious that we wonder why we had never thought it before. Suddenly the way we understand the world changes, like Archimedes, who sitting in a water tub suddenly realized that one could move the world with a fixed, absolute point. “Eureka!”, he screamed: a new idea grabs hold of us with its explanatory power.

Or when a pair of eyes matches another, and there is an inexplicable connection, and a flush of feeling awakes us to the beauty of another person. Or when we see a need of the world, like hunger or coward violence, and a holy anger grows on us, and we can’t understand how other people can look at this need and look away, and sleep peacefully, and we wake up to a cause.

These are moments which grab us, which resonate profoundly with who we are. Some people we meet like we meet thousand others, but every now and then it is different – “now that’s a great guy,” we think – and a friendship is born. These moments of connection mark us, communicate with our sense of self, and we center our lives around them. We come back to the same bondings – ideas, people, causes, places – and search for others with existential hunger, looking for these moments of intense connection across  the vast horizon of sameness.

What causes these moments of “click”? Why do we have them with some people, ideas and places and not with others? And, for those of us who try to communicate things, lead groups and influence people, how can we extend them to others?

Maybe a concrete example can help here. Consider this description of a moment of “click” – an intense moment of prayer Jonathan Edwards had in the eighteenth-century:

“The appearance of every thing was altered; there seemed to be, as it were, a calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost every thing. God’s excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in every thing; in the sun, and moon, and stars; in the clouds and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, trees; in the water, and all nature, which used to greatly to fix my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon for continuance; and in the day spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things; in the mean time, singing forth, with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer.”[1]

It is a curious, compelling description. He talks about contemplating the moon, clouds, trees, but seeing more in them: “a calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost every thing.” It is a very personal moment, so personal that we resonate with it, I think, insofar as we have had this particular moment of click ourselves or not: if we have had spiritually intense moments or not. If we never felt anything like Edwards’ illuminated walk through the forest, we ask, “What is all the fuss about? It’s just trees and the sky.” If, on the other hand, we have felt such a sweetness and sense of serenity when in prayer before, Edwards’ divine “click” is eloquent with meaning.

A moment of click involves interiority, serenity, wakefulness. It is like a portal that floods our inner world with external beauty, that makes us feel alive. And when it comes to Edwards’ example, when it comes to faith,  it makes what before was an abstract idea – God – shine with personal splendour and truthfulness, shine brighter than the surface of the water or more colorful than the grass below.

But what gives us such a moment of click? What makes us see this kind of meaning and beauty?

That is a question worth asking, a personal and intimate question. It is a question that can throw the start of a new week  – maybe the very week that starts today – into a whole new focus.

René Breuel

[1]    Jonathan Edwards, Personal Narrative, quoted in Michael J. McClymond, Encounters with God: An Approach to the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 25.


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