Lately I’ve been very aware that nature is my balm for feeling filled with a magnitude of delightful emotions all at once. I call it awe. Awe is wonder and amazement and gratitude and more wrapped into a moment of time. Being in nature gives me that awe opportunity when I see a beautiful sunset or sunrise, wild animals roaming, or trees swaying in the wind. Much of this awe stems from my visual sense of the vast beauty in nature. Although I find it much more palpable when in nature, even a photograph of nature can evoke that same awe feeling.
A common element of my experience of awe comes through my visual senses. I call it beauty though lately I feel challenged by that word because there are a lot of social parameters as to what constitutes beauty. I mean beauty in a more broad spiritual sense rather than some culturally defined version of beauty. I am a lover of art and the astounding awe experience of seeing a phenomenal work of art can be heart stopping. That is similar to my experience of viewing vast vistas in nature, but museums make awe more easily found if you aren’t in nature.
I have had plenty of awe moments while gazing at skylines in cities, yet nature has even more to offer than just visual awesomeness. Right now we have tree frogs creating a cacophony of comforting sounds in the afternoon and evening. And we have a new family of ducks who moved into the marsh near us. They are so adorable to watch and their occasional quacks are indeed awesome.
Of course scent is another sense that creates magnitudes of awe for me. These days of spring I am always sniffing the air when I am outside for signs of flowers and blossoming trees. And though I love many perfumes, they don’t create that kind of awe experience I get when inhaling a bouquet of peonies or lilacs or roses. The moment of awe is even grander when the buds are experienced in their natural state in a garden.Nature certainly is an effective way to find moments of scent awe, but it isn’t the only way. Baking is an important route to awe for me. I love nothing more than the amazing enveloping warm feeling of the smell of cookies or cake baking in the oven. Vanilla and spices are the common denominator of the awe smell of baking. And of course my taste buds get to have delight when the baked goods are ready to eat.
I find that there are big moments of awe and also small moments of awe. I don’t discriminate. Awe through sounds can be huge and loud or soft and intimate. It depends. I am as easily awed by a loud music piece as I am by the gentle ringing of chimes in the breeze. Live concerts are particularly wonderful awe experiences because they involve sight, sound, and if the beats are loud, reverberations in my body too. What makes the experience of awe so wonderful is the depth of feeling that runs though my body in an instant. All the emotions swirling through my body and soul during a moment of awe gives life a wonderful intensity.
Where do you find awe in your everyday life?