The Awe Factor
For faith to be relevant, it needs to be alive. It needs to include feelings!
My faith began with a feeling. As a child, I looked up at star-studded summer sky and felt something moving in the heavens touching the inside of me. I was filled with the emotion of awe.
I remember the shivers, I remember the presence. I remember the filling. I remember the feeling of elation and confidence. I was forever changed. I wanted more of that - and I have been an "awe-seeker" ever since.
Later, I found that there is research that confirms my experience.
Dacher Keltner, one of the foremost theorists and scholars of awe, defines it as “the sensation of being in the presence of something vast and simultaneously transcendent!" This emotion comes in response to beauty, virtue and supernatural events.
And then he goes on to say, "Experiences that arouse awe can help us to re-conceptualize our sense of self, our role in society and from a more cosmic perspective, our place in the universe."
There are even benefits - improved health, a greater capacity for kindness and sharing. "Awe is one of the few emotions that can reconfigure our sense of time and immerse us in the present moment."
Awe moments give us confidence.
The scriptures are full of awe moments.
So that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy. Psalms 65:8
I think we know them also as those “goosebumps” moments. - a shiver. It can feel like the touch of an angel - the whisper of the spirit. Apparently all of us experience an awe moment every three days - approximately.
We can ignore them, minimize them, and even scoff at them as mere imagination. We can even be wary of them, avoiding them - as too emotional and mysterious.
Or we can notice them, pay attention and enhance them. We can study them, write them down and look for the patterns. We can super size their healing potential.
I believe we can trigger them intentionally. We can go to church, take a walk in the woods, listen to awesome music, seek out friends, engage those who walk with angels and read inspiring books.
We can feel the shivers during worship - feel the touch of an angel when we are kneeling in prayer. We can see the finger of God highlighting his word as we read, we can stop to smell a rose, we can pause when a deer passes by our window.
Looking back, I still remember the awe moments years ago when our daughter was murdered and our world turned into one gigantic night sky - darker than you can ever imagine. Looking back I realize It was "awe studded."
There were those "bigger than life" storms that swirled around us, those strangers coming by and saying all the right things, those Bible verses that jumped off the page, those mysterious hugs of spirit warmth - those little nudges of encouragement, At the very darkest - those moments - those awe moments felt divine - and kept us going.
Who would ever want to throw away a faith that promises injections of awe?
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein,