An Ode to Awe

I don’t know that I’ve considered awe’s role in my life to any great degree, but recently I was made to pause when I read Why Do We Experience Awe?. This article was a game changer for me. I immediately decided that I needed more big awe in my life.

Looking back, I’ve had numerous moments of awe, but in my early 20s I had two that were incredibly defining for my future, both were when I was out alone in nature. One was in the middle of nowhere in the prairies at dusk, the other was while laying on a rocky river bed, surrounded by giant trees, watching an eagle soar overhead. Both these experiences added a great deal of clarity to my life at the time.  I know from experience, as the above article states, “that awe imbues people with a different sense of themselves, one that is smaller, more humble and part of something larger“.

Through mindfulness I have found awe in the everyday, often out my back window, on walks in the big nature park just outside my front door, in the smiles of my little boys, the chirp of a bird and so much more. But I thought it would be fun to actively pursue some of those bigger awe moments out in nature with my family. After all, I have the Rockies right at my doorstep.

Here is my plan. My church (I reluctantly type that here as I know it immediately conjures all sorts of ideas about who I am, but there it is) does not offer a children’s program throughout the summer, so every Sunday (or at least most), starting June 28th, we have decided that we’ll head out into nature. Awe-Sunday, if you will. I will be sharing our experiences here.

I would love for you to (virtually) join me, in your own stomping ground of course, and share your experiences in the comments below.

For further inspiration you may want to check out this youtube video Awe.

Let’s write an ode to awe.

simple. mindful.

So what is “simplicity” anyway? There are varying definitions, but, for me, it is conscious or aware living. Choosing to include those things and experiences that add value to my life or letting go of the periphery and needless. Our culture is accustomed to over consumption; fulfilling all wants; confusing wants with needs; get, get, get. Simplicity focuses on being satisfied; loving the enough. Some call it simplicity. Some call it minimalism. Some call it essentialism. Call it whatever you want. I call it freedom.

So what is “mindfulness” anyway? Again, definitions vary, but, for me, it is conscious or aware living; choosing to take in this present moment, to notice, to be aware, to be awake, truly awake. Our culture is very accustomed to tuning out or to constant distraction. It’s a beautiful thing to pause and become aware of your surroundings, nature, your body and the people in the room with you.  That is mindfulness.

Simplicity and mindfulness truly go hand in hand. Simplicity perhaps deals more directly with what we choose to consume or not consume (food, “things” and experiences). Creating physical space in a sense. Mindfulness is more about embracing the moment. Creating mental space. Both overlap. Both create spiritual space.

It is possible to have a mindfulness practice without living in simplicity, but then it’s more of a doing than a being. It is also possible to practice simplicity without actively engaging in mindfulness.

When you are practicing mindfulness, however, in your daily life it is much easier to embrace simplicity. When you start making conscious choices about the things you buy and the experiences you have, you by nature become more mindful.

It’s a process.

It’s counter cultural.

It’s conscious living.

It’s an awaking.

It’s truly a beautiful thing.

You have so much

The other day I was talking to a friend who was in the midst of a hardship. I spoke words to her that my inner voice had been telling me all week, “You have so much”, which is really so different than “you have enough”. The 1st tells you that your life is full, the 2nd tells you that you can do without. Sometimes we just need to hear that our life is full.

You might say, “What do I have? Seriously?”

You may not have the relationship that you think you want or need.

You may not have the job that you want.

Your car is a lemon.

Your house is just okay.

Maybe some of your family relationships have fallen apart.

Maybe you’ve lost someone dear.

Perhaps you’re struggling with parenting.

Maybe your health is not great.

Maybe you’re not in the shape that you want to be.

Maybe you’re sleep deprived.

And so on.

And yet, here I am, telling you, You Have So MuchI’m not making light of struggles. Struggles are real. They are deep. They are hard. But in our struggles we often forget what we have.

Pause with me. Set aside comparisons. Look full into the beautiful, round face of your life and hold it. 

This is what you have…

A history.

Lessons learned.

That quiet pause.

That beautiful lingering moment.

Your intuition.

That incredible song that just hangs on.

The breeze in the trees.

The robin singing.

The smell of fresh cut grass.

That goodnight sleep.

That beautiful blue sky.

This refreshing rain.

An incredible meal.

That amazing friend that has your back no matter what.

The unrelenting love of someone.

That trip you took that one time.

That book that left it’s mark.

Those incredible, crazy making kids.

This present moment.

This fresh start.

A life, to this date, well lived.

You do, you have so much.