When I sit out on the early morning October shore of the lake, I’d come simply to witness.
Scarlet robed trees stretched their limbs in autumn mist like worshippers before the throne, and fog rises off the water like all of creation can’t help but rise in awe.
Awe rescales us smaller, so we are the right size to hold more joy.
“When we diminish our egocentric size of self, we expand our capacity for great joy.”
It is true: When we diminish our egocentric size of self, we expand our capacity for great joy in God.
It’s the happiest paradox: What you really have to do to make your life scale is to rescale yourself. Awe makes you feel beautifully small before a great God.
Water laps on the shore, kissing the hem of things with thanks and, somewhere out on the lake, again, and then there, again, haunting, a loon’s soft song searches.
These are sacred moments. These are places you can always return to in your mind when things take unexpected turns. Memorize those moments.
“Awe makes us see that we, and our problems are small, and one great God is over all.”
Before the wind blows in long months of snow, it’s been of the utmost importance to my soul to head outside for a daily soak in October’s saturated golden light.
This is more than what the scientists call “awe walks.”
This is more than what the Japanese call “forest bathing.”
This is what I call Glory Soaks, this is what I call God-Awe Walks.
Because the whole earth is full of His Glory, the habit of Glory Soaking simply steps outside to soak in His glory to wash the soul cleaner with worship.
Awe makes us see that we, and our problems are small, and one great God is over all.
Awe makes us feel delightfully insignificant, and significant, delightful joy.
When we are awed, we feel smaller and part of something larger, which makes our joy larger.
“Awe calms. Practice being awed and you’re practically rewiring your brain to be calm.“
When we feel smaller, we feel humility, which is the key to connectivity with God and people, which is key to wholeness.
Look at something beautiful and you can feel how your own heart slows down: When we are wildly moved, our fight or flight systems stops wildly moving.
Awe calms. Practice being awed and you’re practically rewiring your brain to be calm.
This can change everything. This has been changing my life.
5 Ways to Practice the Art of Awe:
- Go for a God-Awe Walk to arrive at where you really want to go. “A 2020 study showed that participants taking weekly 15-minute awe walks for eight weeks reported less stress and increased emotions like compassion and gratitude.” Go for a walk to see the sunrise up like a crescendo of glory every morning. Take an evening walk at sunset and stand in awe at how God paints the skies. Take a walk any time of day and look up at the vastness of His skies and let awe fill your eyes and heart and smile.
- Explore anything new to find new joy: a new street, a new book, a new hobby. New things opens us up in new ways to new wonders.
- What you see in pixels is never as powerful as what you see in person.
Seek in person experiences — at the park, at the concert, at the coffee shop across the table from a friend instead of across a screen. Sometimes what leaves us down, is looking down at our pixelated phones, instead of looking into in-person, real face.
- Art remakes broken hearts. Gaze on a masterpiece once a week, crank deep moving music every morning, read one poem a day. Awe in art moves the soul toward hope.
- Keep an Awesome Book: document daily moments of awe, snapping a picture with your phone. A crimson leaf at your feet, a dog sleeping in a doorway, a steaming cup of coffee, a sunset caught in trees. Collate all your collected moments of awe in one book, your own Awesome Book, all the awe of your life. This is all a gift from one awesome God.
“Trauma is when pain overwhelms us. Awe is when God overwhelms us. Which is why awe heals trauma: our deep pain is overwhelmed by our great God.”
Why does awe matter, especially on some of our most awful days? Research finds that “awe experiences are linked with a decrease in markers for chronic inflammation (associated with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and bowel diseases and reduced rumination associated with depression . Awe may even expand our perception of time and, as another study suggests, make us feel less impatient .”
After our own kind of run-on “annus horribilis” that’s dragged from one staggering year of grief and loss into the next, I can stand on the edge of fall, and see what’s held us, what’s holding us:
The way through awful is awe.
Daily doses of God-awe is a kind of medicine that treats trauma.
Trauma is when pain overwhelms us. Awe is when God overwhelms us. Which is why awe heals trauma: our deep pain is overwhelmed by our great God.
This is why I keep prioritizing the habit of daily God-Awe Walks, of Daily Glory Soaks when heartache threatens to drown:
“Awe heals trauma.”
Awe heals trauma.
Trauma is healed by God-awe.
The fog lifts from the patient water.
A light wind sighs, satisfied. And the lake emerges. I can start to see: Is the whole earth full of God’s glory to help a whole world heal of painful stories?
All across the shining hills, the leaves whisper one flaming good-bye to all that’s been, not afraid but radiant.
When the woods blaze with color, if I wait and watch, will I see how they combust, ignite, like a sacrifice of praise to Him?
I can feel that: All gratitude to God begins with awe of God.
If you want to be a more thankful person, you need to look for ways to be more in awe.
Openly thankful people are people who are open to awe.
Wonder can be found wherever one’s feet are.
“Drama and trauma are not our soul’s home.
God’s shalom is our home.”
And I am simple awed … stilled … and I let go.
I have found whatever the loon was searching for, and it’s worth holding on to, letting it hold everything:
Drama and trauma are not our soul’s home.
God’s shalom is our home.
October mist rises off the lake’s calm and there’s always glorious space in a day to be awed by God.
Are you desperate for more than just a way through,
but The Way through?
For every person who is walking a hard way and looking for a way through, WayMaker is your sign.
Your sign that there is hope, that there are miracles, and that everything you are trying to find a way to, is actually coming to meet you in ways far more fulfilling than you ever imagined.