Thursday, February 9, 2017

Moments Of Awe

by Cathy

Each day most of us go through a myriad of emotions. We might feel cheerful, sad, proud, embarrassed, shocked, confused, hesitant, amused, or excited. There’s a long list of emotions we may be feeling, but there is one that doesn’t come upon us often. That is the feeling of awe . . . the overwhelming feeling of reverence or admiration. The feeling when we experience something so marvelous we gasp, the hairs on our arms stand on end, and we get goose bumps.

Awe is the only word I know to describe how I felt while watching a large group of trumpeter swans that winter on a small lake here in Arkansas. They are gorgeous creatures and so fascinating that I made two trips to see them. On my second trip, I spent less time behind my camera and more time observing and listening.

There were young ones that played nearby waiting until someone threw a handful of corn. Of course, like children there was some pushing and shoving. I even saw a little tail biting!

There were adults that did a little showing off. They held their wings over their back in a puffed up position to advertise their strength and their neck in a strong S-curve in an aggressive posture.

Despite their large size, they would tip their bodies head down to dabble for vegetation below the water's surface.

I decided it was about time to tear myself away from the lake and head home when I heard the most unusual noise. A farmer on his tractor was crossing the field near the swans on the far side of the lake. As he came closer to them they took flight. All those swans taking flight caused the ones on the lake to take flight also. What I saw and heard was indescribable. The cows were mooing, the swans honking and splashing the water with their big feet as they lifted into the air, and there was a cry of surprise from those of us watching.

As they took flight, they stretched their necks out straight and extended their legs and feet behind their tails. They circled and circled above the lake all the while honking and honking. It was an electrifying moment. I witnessed something huge and marvelous. There was an overwhelming feeling of awe.  It literally left me shaking with joy.

Although I witnessed an incredible event, moments of awe aren't always caused by something huge and marvelous.  Awe can be felt when we see something as simple as sparkling frost on the ground or the gorgeous color of a flower. Awe can be life changing. When we feel awe, we are able to perceive the grand scale and wonder of the world. We face the fact that we are a small part of something much larger.

This world that we are given to enjoy is a gift.
I encourage you to go out and let it bring you moments of awe.


AFishGirl said...

Oh Cathy, you write so beautifully of this emotion. Awe. Yes. I'm nodding. I have to tell you one of my best awe experiences. I'd just started fly fishing so it was all new to me. I was out with Pat to a river I'd never been to. It was late September. The river was not wide, about as wide as the room you're in now, and not that deep, about up to your knees. We had our waders on and were walking it, in the middle, Pat quite a bit in front of me. The current was gentle and the bottom was smooth stones and the water so clear. On either side of the river, tall hardwood trees grew, huge maples, and they met and formed a canopy over the stretch of the river for a long ways. The sun was shining through them, late afternoon sun. Leaves were starting to fall and it was a windless day so as the leaves floated down they rested on the surface of the river (all gold and red and orange) and slowly moved along with the current. The beauty of it stopped me in my tracks. I stood there and felt like my heart was going to burst and then tears came pouring down my face, not sad tears, not happy tears, awe tears. Pat came back to me and said, "Oh Pammy, what's wrong?" I could hardly speak. I said, "This. The beauty of this. I am overwhelmed by it." He just nodded and hugged me, he understood. Awe. Thank you for letting me tell you this story and thank you for reminding me of the feeling. Pam oxoxox

Cathy H. said...

Pam, I'm so glad you shared your beautiful story! You described awe very well, "I stood there and felt like my heart was going to burst!" YES, that's it!!

terriporter said...

Oh, Cathy, your photos are beautiful and your description of awe is perfect. It doesn't happen to us very often but we have to be open to it because there are so many awe-inspiring moments to be witnessed, especially in nature. Sitting here and reading about your experience with the swans and Pam's in the river makes me realize how rare these moments are and how I need to get out there and look for them. Thank you to you (and to Pam) for reminding me to do that.

Anonymous said...

Cathy, I'm so glad you got to go back to visit the swans again. This is such an uplifting post, beautifully written. I love seeing that blue sky and water on this day when it is snowing so hard that I can't see across the river from my window.

Sandra said...

What beautiful shots you got of all those swans, Cathy! I love the capture of them flying. Wonderful! Such lovely moments you spent observing and photographing these elegant birds.

Dotti said...

What a glorious sight that must have been! All those swans, the spontaneity, the grace, the beauty. Yes, nature can indeed be awe-inspiring - but we must be attuned to feel it. And your pictures do great justice to your story!

Focusing on Life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol said...

This is so beautiful and you are such a good writer. I have the goosebumps just listening. ( and Pam as well). Awe is what it's all about - and what we humbly try to capture with our lenses. Thank you for adding beauty to my day.

Sarah Huizenga said...

In my 5-year journal today the question was "If this day was an animal, which animal would it be?" I think I will chose Trumpeter Swan bases on your story here, because everyday should be filled with a little bit of awe.

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