The Quiet Awe in Life


Cross Trail PhotoThere are places in our lives that we can point back and think: That was truly a magical time. That was a sincerely special place. That was an incredible evening. Occasions, celebrations, and milestones mark the path along our lives where we see the unique moments that make this life spectacular.

Great joy is cultivated with special occurrences—weddings, graduations, births, or completing a challenge. But what strikes just as strong a cord are the moments without the fireworks and fanfare. They are the moments of quiet amazement. When we tune into this one and only life, we can witness abundant offerings of quiet amazements.

While in Alaska it seems that my breath often catches as I take in a mountain spire or a spectacular sunset from the most common of places: the grocery store parking lot. These are the moments that I experience awe. The beauty which surrounds me is still rather new to my eyes, still something for me to marvel. But those who live here and have been here for years, do they still marvel?

Sunset from the grocery store parking lot, Sitka

On an early morning run, I was with new friends who have lived many years on this beautiful island in the southeast inner passage. I would have understood if they were no longer easily impressed by the natural backdrop. But, as we rounded the trail with the snow lightly falling, one of the women shouted “Stop…look at that.” There before us were snow capped mountains draped in a swath of the morning sunlight. We stood in silence, jaws dropped, and took in the splendor nature painted before us.

Along with that ephemeral scene was the reality that my friends—even as seasoned Alaskans with plenty of their own memories and stories of this wildly untamed land—where in awe. They had not lost the ability to see the magnificence of the mountains, the trees, even the light as it reflected into the the muskeg.

Each day contains many uncatalogued or unplanned opportunities for wonder. It is there on the face of child, or in the laughter of a stranger, or in the way the clouds dance in the sky. When we pay attention, even for a moment, we experience these unexpected gifts of quiet amazement.


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