I recently participated in a winter workshop on awe and wonder. Those words appear quite frequently at this time of year, and who could blame anyone for using them? They really are such lovely and inspiring terms. Awe and wonder – who wouldn’t want more?
I know I do. We all do, I suspect.
Or do we?
As part of the workshop, the facilitator read to us the definition of both words.
1. An overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, or dread, produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like. Example: in awe of God.
2. Archaic. The power to inspire fear or reverence.
1. To think or speculate curiously. Example: to wonder about the origin of the solar system.
2. To be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; to marvel (often followed by at ). Example: He wondered at her composure in such a crisis.
3. To doubt. Example: I wonder if she’ll really get here.
I was fascinated to learn that awe (and sometimes even wonder) always includes an element of fear. We then talked about the places we have encountered that have inspired awe and wonder, and how sometimes instead of another journey outward, we need to take the scarier (and potentially more rewarding) journey inward, a journey to discover our interior landscape.
The interesting thing is this: experiencing awe and wonder (and the accompanying fear) makes us feel alive.
The facilitator then asked us: what makes you come alive? She encouraged us to go home and develop a list. Here’s what I have so far:
- Being outdoors in nature
- Wilderness areas
- Being transported by a good book to another time/place/world/life
- Fighting for a cause I feel passionate about
- Speaking for things that cannot speak
- Defending the underdog
- Starting things
- Instigating change/reform
- Meeting new people
- Learning new things
- Exploring new places
Over the course of your life, what places have inspired awe and wonder? How did this make you feel? And most importantly, what makes you come alive? Share your list in the comments.
Until next time,