When was the last time you were filled with awe, wonder, mystery? When was the last time you were so inspired that your response was a catch in the throat, a whispered ‘awesome’ or a shouted ‘whoop’!
According to a series of scientific studies awe is an essential component to living well. Awe leads to greater generosity, increased ethical decision making and enhanced capacity for the common good. One study put it this way: ‘Standing in a grove of towering trees enhanced prosocial helping behavior.’
It seems that being in the midst of nature has a way of putting our grandiosity or worries in perspective. Looking into the depths of the Grand Canyon, hiking the White Mountains or standing in a grove of trees can speak to the depth of one’s soul. A reminder that it isn’t all about us. It’s about belonging to something greater, so intricately complex and beautiful that in response, we simply whisper ‘thank you’.
Soul is that inner place where we instinctively sense a connection to that which is greater than oneself. Remember the last time you looked up at the night sky and saw a shooting star? Perhaps its been a very long time. But you remember your response…a whispered or shouted ‘wow’ as a million year old meteor burned bright and then was gone.
John Muir put it this way:
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
Since the beginning of time humankind has experienced awe. Awe inspires, transforms, creates. Awe fires the imagination…giving us art, science, poetry, music, dance, religion.
The challenge in life is to make space for awe. In our hyper busy, technologically driven lives we can miss out on so much. Sometimes it takes a natural disaster i.e. blizzard, blackout, flood to catch our attention. A whack upside the head from the Universe that says ‘listen up’!
The invitation of course is ours. To experience the beauty, wonder, harshness, the sacredness of nature here and now.
Sometimes when I’m kayaking …I feel suspended between the water and sky. A moment when I can’t distinguish between me and my surroundings. There’s no duality only unity. I simply am.
Creation speaks in infinite ways…for those with the ears to hear, eyes to see and with lips to praise.
The poet Mary Oliver offers this:
‘Let me keep my mind on what matters which consists of standing still and learning to be astonished.’
May it be so.