Chasing Moments of Awe
There are moments in life that take our breath away. Moments we sit in awe and wonder how. How did I get here? How is this possible? How am I going to remember this? How do I cherish this?
Moments of awe can be big, audacious, they can transcend time. For me, some of those moments are sitting in a quiet coffee shop, drinking the best chai tea latte I have ever had with no where I needed to be and nothing I needed to do. Or watching the sunset over the water with my toes dug deep into the sand. Or sitting at one of the highest points of Machu Picchu watching the clouds rise from the valley below. Or the moment I walked down the aisle and saw Aaron in his smokey grey tux, his dimples showing and the look in his eyes. Or sitting on our balcony on our honeymoon watching lightening stretch across the sky - deep darkness shattered by bright bolts of light. Or the first time I felt Addie kick - before it become difficult to breathe and each kick felt like a rib might break. Or when I saw her for the first time.
These moments still make my heart flutter and leave me speechless. These are memories that I hope to remember for the rest of my life. They are big moments of awe. However, research shows that the average person experiences 2.5 moments of awe each week. As I read that, I wondered what are my 2.5 moments of awe each week? Could I recall any in the last seven days?
Awe is defined as reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder. These moments take us out of a moment focused inward and force us to see outside of ourselves to view the world in a more connected way. Sharing these moments with others brings a sense of togetherness and unity with those around us.
Moments of awe cause us to be in the moment, they transcend our current understanding of things and positively impact our lives. (Rick McDaniel, 2018). There is a significant amount of research that encourages us to seek out moments of awe. Research through the University of Toronto has shown that experiencing moments of awe can reduce depression. The University of California, Berkeley, found that moments of awe decreased stress levels, helped quality of sleep and the overall well being/quality of life in the patients studied.
I felt an awe moment this past weekend. We were at Aaron's parents house, and Nana brought out a bubble machine for Addie to play with. Squeals of delight lifted from the backyard as bubbles were chased and popped. When the machine was low on bubbles, a demand for more was given.
Addie was mesmerized by the bubbles floating up and away.
After an interruption from mom (me) and a quick photo shoot, Addie went back to playing with the bubbles. I watched as she giggled and chased bubbles. I was in awe.
I felt awestruck over the simplicity of her joy. She was joyous because there were bubbles and she had room to play. I was awestruck over the giggle that escaped as she popped a bubble - her sweet giggle made my heart sing. I realized that there are so many awe moments that surround a child. A toddler's entire world is a mixture of awe moments. There is so much newness and discovery that happens.
But what about us adults? Most people I know work a full-time job, are juggling various important relationships and are just trying to survive. Do we truly experience moments of awe? Are we made to experience those moments of awe? Well, according to the research, yes. As humans, we are made and designed to seek moments of awe, because they connect us to some thing greater than ourselves, someone greater than ourselves.
Seeking moments of awe is closely tied to seeking God. We can find him in little moments like a good cup of coffee, a slow walk on the beach, the laughter of a child. We can also find him on the top of a mountain, during a thunderstorm or after a dramatic life event.
Being intentional about looking for God and finding moments of awe allows us to see that we are a part of a much bigger picture, that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves. I think God intended for us to see these moments of awe to show us just how much he loves us and that through those moments of awe, we can see his personality and love shine through.
In October 2019, I started writing down moments of gratitude each day. I looked for five things to be grateful for and wrote them down. I have noticed a shift in my focus during the day. I look for things to be grateful for. I have found that I have so many more awe moments than I remember having before I started writing down moments of gratitude.
If you find yourself struggling to recall recent moments of awe, I want to challenge you to start searching for things to be grateful for, your moments of awe will start to reveal themselves to you.
"Start searching for awe today." (Rick McDaniel 2018).