Sunday, November 6, 2016


"Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made," are familiar lyrics from the old-time hymn "How Great Thou Art." I've always loved that hymn for its lyrics because they speak to me and to my appreciation for the beauty of nature. However, they became even richer after reading the cover story of the October 9, 2016 edition of the "Parade" newspaper supplement, an article by Paula Spencer Scott about Awe and the therapeutic effects from feeling it. According to Merriam-Webster, awe is a "strong feeling of fear or respect and also wonder." I don't particularly resonate with the fear aspect of that definition, but I do feel the respect and wonder aspects to my core, particularly when in the magnificence and majesty of nature. On my daily walks, I allow myself to become immersed in my environment, becoming alert to things that pass by too quickly for complete observation when driving. It is then that I see falling leaves swirling in an intricate dance to the ground. I smell the spicy, heady scent of flowering crab trees in the spring. I view the riot of vibrant, cheerful color that a summer garden offers. I get the same sensation of awe when hearing music. There is nothing so wonderful as to listen to the complex, jubilant and amazing Charles-Marie Widor's Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony in F, Opus 42, No. 1. I occasionally listen to it just to get that sensation of awe. At a time when we tend to hear more messages from the fear side of awe, which only compounds our stress levels, I feel that our everyday lives hold the potential for wonder. We just have to step outside or listen to a great piece of music, get our eyes off of our handheld devices and move away from our increasing propensity to a sedentary and, sadly, isolating lifestyle. Doing so will open our eyes, ears and hearts to the glorious things all around us. If we could only concentrate on those glorious, wondrous moments a bit more, what an awesome world it would be.