Since moving to the west coast of Canada, I have experienced a transformation in my connection to and appreciation of nature. Almost every day, I see something that leaves me in a state of awe.
“Awe is quite a specific experience. It happens when we view beauty amid vastness, predominantly in nature, triggering a deep sense of belonging. Awe, more than any other experience I know, connects us to the vulnerability, wildness and preciousness of life.” –Sarah Wilson
Awe, for me, means a moment of pause, of presence, of expanding my mind; of taking in the exquisite beauty of this earth and what we get to experience as humans. Awe is the space in which the rest of the world falls away and you are in harmony with something greater- something sacred, unique, fleeting and special.
During a recent writing course that I took online, I was invited to go for a walk outdoors and take note of what evokes awe in me, then to write about it. I brought a small journal with me, and by taking my time and truly observing my surroundings in detail, certain descriptive words/phrases began to take shape in my mind. The more thoughts I wrote down, the more they started to flow and the bones of a story developed naturally. I became fully immersed in the experience and by the time I got back to my car, I had a short piece quite nearly completed. It was a valuable and inspiring creative practice, and I have shared my assignment below:
Stepping into the woods at golden hour, my bare arms become patterned by the late evening light which is trickling through the trees in a gentle stream. The creamy clusters of oceanspray flowers lining the path are backlit with an ethereal glow and I feel as though I have entered a fairy realm. This environment is my portal to awe.
The trail curves gently, smoothly, beckoning me forward and I remove my sandals to engage in direct contact with the soft earth. An enticing smell, made richer by the recent summer rain, wafts up from the ground with every quiet step of my foot. The forest is so still that I stop periodically, bathing in the comforting silence which is punctuated only by distant chirping high in the canopy surrounding me.
My fingers graze the bark of the ancient trees as I walk, communing with the grounding they exude and anchoring me in place spiritually. I take pause at a particularly grand cedar and place both of my hands on its rough, layered bark, drawing energy in from its roots while reciprocating my deepest gratitude back through my palms.
Everything feels perfectly as it should be here, the way it always does when I come back home to nature; I can feel its medicine filling my cells with the vitality I was craving.
As the sky darkens and I slowly head back to my starting point, I sense the peace within me expanding and growing, reminding me of the importance of these forest walks for my mental wellness.
I feel held. I am refreshed. I have been cleansed by awe.
I would highly encourage anyone in need of a creative spark to try this exercise.
What elements of nature inspire a sense of awe in you?