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Making Room for Awe

Last week, for the first time in years, a total eclipse was visible from the United States. While eclipses occur about every 18 months, they haven’t often been seen in the U.S. – particularly in the age of the smartphone. Now our technological devices allow us to capture all kinds of phenomena. 

The Monday of the eclipse, people gathered in small towns all across middle America for a chance to be in the path of “totality,” where a total eclipse would be visible. Millions of people were able to see a partial eclipse, either with special viewing glasses or via homemade contraptions. For a few hours, time seemed to stop as coverage extended from one end of the nation to the other. Radio stations broadcast crowds’ live reactions, NASA livestreamed the occurrence – racking up a record number of viewers ever for any NASA livestream – and news stations covered the event. 

In a culture known for keeping our eyes on our phones, for a few minutes, everyone looked away, glasses on, or gaze focused into a cardboard box, or attention on funny-shaped shadows cast by a partially obscured sun. 

More even then the accompanying “oohs” and “aahs” during fireworks displays, crowds would go eerily silent, or would break out in exclamation, or would let out whooping cries and applause. Observers stammered to attempt to express their emotions at what felt like the whole world’s lamp being dimmed midday as crickets began to play. 

For a few moments, crowds of people stood in awe. 

The Western world has plenty of hype – plenty of viral marketing campaigns – plenty of trending buzz. What we fall short of, frequently, is simple awe – child-like wonder. That is what awoke on the day of the eclipse.  

“The heavens declare the glory of God,” we read in scripture. It is humbling to witness the cosmic dance of heavenly bodies. It brings worship to our lips, it causes us to marvel. However much we study astronomy, witnessing the moon trail across the sun is an experience that ignites awe in our hearts. In the Information Age, awe reminds us how childlike we really are. 

Make space in your day for moments that will inspire a spontaneous, “wow!” of delight in your life. Choose to create space for wonder. You won’t be sorry.