I sat on the porch for a long time this morning. Margaret slept in. The dogs were content to sleep in as well and I soaked in the solitude of the day. The air felt clean for the first time in weeks. An ever so slight breeze ran across my face as if God was saying, “relax and enjoy the moment”. My coffee tasted better, the chair was more comfortable, and all was right in the world.
According to the dictionary, awe is defined as a “feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder”. This is one of those days when everything is in focus and with clarity comes a reverential respect mixed with wonder – awe. The sun is a bit brighter, the chattering of the squirrels a tad sharper, and the grass has a tinge of green that wasn’t there yesterday. I’m in awe…
According to a April 27, 2017 article in Psychology Today, people who experience awe more frequently live longer and tend to have less health problems. In fact, the experience of awe leads to enhanced critical thinking and creativity as well as a feeling of connectedness to the community and physical world around us. It helps one ‘stay in the moment’.
The article cites Dacher Keltner, a leading theorist and scholar on the emotion of awe, as saying, “Seek out experiences that give you goosebumps”. Yes, it does, and it can be found in the smallest of things.
The kids tell me that Margaret and I lead boring lives. “You should get out more” they always tell us. In some ways I’m sure they are right. It’s not that we don’t want to get out at times, but there are days when Margaret isn’t physically able. Our twenty and thirty-something (and healthy, thank God) kids don’t realize how difficult it can. While Margaret is far more social than I am, we’ve both become homebodies, and not always due to physical limitations. We stay in a continual state of awe that we could be blessed to live the life we do. While our world may seem small to some, it’s filled with joy, wonder, and awesome incredible moments.
I start my mornings here on a front porch at the end of a cul-de-sac in Fort Wort, Texas. Not much changes, and yet everything changes. Most mornings, (even on the really hot ones) I’m greeted by the song of the little mockingbird that calls our yard home. Squirrels chase each other through the trees and stop only to chatter at our cat, Wallace. We even have a resident spider that graces our front porch with a magnificent, intricate web each day. They are all details of a world full of fascination and wonder.
Life does show up from time to time with setbacks and hardships that seem awful at the time. The irony is that both awesome and awful come from the word awe. Awe can be traced back to the Greek word, achos, for pain. That makes sense to me because life can be painful at times. It has its fair share of disappointments, sadness, and frustration, and each bear their own physical, emotional, or spiritual pain. Experience has taught me that walking through the pain leads me from awful to awesome – and both can leave me in awe…
I strive to be ‘awe-full’ (who you talk to depends on which spelling they use…). Seeing God in the minute details of the world and the lives of the people is a state I want to become accustomed to. Gratitude always seem to accompany awe, and gratitude changes the way I view my world. It’s a cycle I like being caught up in.
If people who experience awe more frequently really do live longer, then I’m pretty sure I’m going to be around for a while. To those that are disappointed by that, I say, “that’s awful…”