To be thunderstruck may not involve a flash of lightning or an instantaneous sign from the heavens. In fact, it may not come in a single moment. But when everything comes together just right, well, you just know. And when you know, you know that you know, you know? The guy in this video, the Bad Piper, took his tattoos, leather kilt, Mohawk, pub music and Scottish instrument, combined them all in the world’s loudest, strangest mash-up and found that he was thunderstruck. Just look:

Oh, did I fail to mention flames?!?! When someone finds their niche, no matter how bizarre it may seem to the rest of the world, their life is in order. I fear that too much of what passes for order in our lives is simply organizing things that might not belong in our lives in the first place. When we, as Joseph Campbell implored, follow our bliss, then meaning-making can happen. Our lives are most in order when we fit into the larger established order of creation.

Many people are surprised that with my passion for birding that I don’t keep bird feeders in my yard. The reason is simple, I prefer the natural order. I don’t need to bring birds to me in order to appreciate them. In fact, I enjoy them more when I enter their world, observing them in the wild with all of their wild behaviors unaffected by human behavior (well, inasmuch as that is possible). At the root of the human-caused environmental crisis we are facing is a horrendous disconnect from nature. For too long we have considered ourselves apart from nature instead of a part of nature. We need to return to a healthy understanding of our smallness, as one species among many. Accepting our smallness is not an act of weakness. On the contrary, when we know the vulnerability of our place, we are free to wonder at the awe of all that is beyond us and marvel at our ability to participate in it.

That is part of what Dyson Demara was attempting to share (sadly through a miserable Skype connection) during this week’s episode. The more he fought the natural processes in creating wine the more he failed. It is only in working together with the powerful forces that he can’t control that he can produce a truly marvelous product. Even if you are unwilling to name that as the hand of God, there remains the gift of awe. The fact that a grape has in its being the possibility of becoming wine through the naturally occurring yeast and thus ease of fermentation is an awe-worthy fact. What separates a good wine-maker from a great one is the willingness to acknowledge and work with that wonder.

Rev. Ian Lynch is pastor of  First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Brimfield, MA. He blogs about the intersection of spirituality and society at and the intersection of spirituality and ornithology at

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