Recently, my friend M and I headed into the woods together for our first overnight backpacking experience. We both have an appreciation for nature and a spark for adventure. Our first night we camped near a lake serenaded by frogs. With contentment we watched the sun set over the lake and then woke frequently to twigs breaking nearby and finally to a cold misty dawn. We were surprised to hear highway sounds in the distance–we thought we were deep enough in the woods to escape such things. Day hikers began to sift through our camp on the trail around the lake invading our primitive privacy. The work and effort it took to carry in gear, cook, and repack did not dampen our wonder at beautiful skies and a variety of animal sounds: the plop of fish, the scuttle of chipmunks and flick and buzz of winged spectators (or torturers).
Apparently experiencing awe is a well-being booster with physiological and mental benefits. Awe can be experienced through nature, relationships, and accomplishments. Some feel awe in association with religious and spiritual experiences. Some feel awe when they complete a marathon or create artwork or watch a marathon and view artwork.
Whenever I am around young children or see photos of children I am filled with awe-a connection to something greater that is inspirational and humbling all at once. Young children lay there thoughts and emotions out there. They are unfiltered, mysterious, raw, pure, and so precious. Preserving their innocence while hitching a glance to see the world through their eyes is fulfilling. A sense of purpose and intention swells up and feels focused and simple.
This year as my youngest goes to college I feel a deep sense of honor that I could daily step into a child’s world. I am humbled by the possible wounding I inflicted at times with my hurry and over structure. I am grateful I have an eternity to be part of this universe, traverse the earth, weave my life thread among so many others and experience something that comes to us frequently enough to evoke joy and rare enough to treasure.
May you be open to awe and embrace its ability to create a meaningful life.