When was the last time you felt goosebumps when you looked at something? Or were rendered speechless in the presence of something bigger than yourself?
I don’t think we have enough awe in our lives – those moments when the world seems to fall away and time stops. Routines and tasks take our attention until days merge and barely delineate. And it’s been especially hard during lockdowns to get out into nature or visit churches and museums. But seeking out moments, however tiny, can shift our focus just enough to allow our hearts to open. Our brains and bodies appreciate the chance to look up and out, bringing a sense of smallness that stares wide-eyed at something, be it a church spire, a tall tree or even a skyscraper.
During the Bennetts’ Big Trip I had incredible moments like this: sunbeams glinting through stained glass in a German church; Norwegian glaciers that filled lakes with mint-green water; the soaring towers of cathedrals in Spain and France; the frescoed ceilings all over Italy. And most of all, a shared moment with a wild goshawk at the top of a mountain in Norway – her flecked breast and yellow talons and astonishing glare as we stared at each other, both perhaps unsure what to do next. She flew away soundlessly and I simply started to cry.
This sense of being small is what does it. Astronauts speak about how it feels to stare down at the planet, new parents sense it when their baby clasps their finger for the first time. Moments of transcendence at a concert, in church, on a mountain, by the sea, can all nudge their way into our hearts and bring blessing.