“Who is like you among the gods, O LORD? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?”—Exodus 15:11 (NASB).
Twinkling lights filled the dusky evening skies. Filled with excitement, I exclaimed, “Fireflies,” to the friend on the other end of the phone line. While many might take the sight for granted, I’d not seen fireflies in such large numbers in many years—at least more than a decade.
I was awestruck by their beauty as they flitted around my backyard. As the daylight continued to wane, the intensity of their flashes increased.
“Feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness.”
After my exclamation of excitement, my friend replied, “Yes, they seem to be more plentiful here at the lake.”
Growing up in Louisiana, my sister and I would capture the insects, also known as lightning bugs, and place them in jars. After punching holes in the lids of the Mason jars, we’d set them on our bedroom windowsill and watch their tail lights flash on and off as we drifted off to sleep.
Almost 50 years later, I find myself, once again, in awe of these florescent insects. I wanted to grab a jar and recapture my childhood memories. I thought, “When was the last time I’d been impressed by such simple, but elegant beauty.”
Recently, I read a magazine article titled, “Feeling awe may be the secret to health and happiness.”
According to psychologist Dacher Keltner, “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things.
“People often talk about awe as seeing the Grand Canyon or meeting Nelson Mandela,” Keltner says. “But our studies show it can be much more accessible—a friend is so generous you’re astounded, or you see a cool pattern of shadows and leaves.”
In today’s fast-paced society, we often miss the “awe.” We’re too busy, too wrapped up in making a living or trying to climb the social and financial ladder that we don’t take time to experience God’s creation or appreciate the kindness of friends.
According to Keltner, 75 percent of awe is inspired by the natural world. Instead of getting outdoors, we hide in our cubicles at work or zone out in front of the TV at home.
So, how can we find more awe in everyday life? Here are seven suggestions by author Paula Scott.
- Drop the devices and gaze at the clouds and stars.
- Visit a local, state or national park.
- Take an Awe Walk in your neighborhood, noticing things as if for the first time.
- Describe to a friend or write about a time you once felt awe.
- Visit a museum or planetarium.
- Get up early to watch the sunrise.
- Play amazing music. (Beethoven’s Fifth comes up often. Another is Alison Krauss’ “Down to the River to Pray.”
Without doing a scientific study of fireflies, I wouldn’t understand the complexities of their bodies. However, I do understand God’s marvelous creation has a plan and a purpose. And that fills me with awe.