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“I Felt the Wonder of the Universe”

Have you experienced the healing power of awe? You can live in this joy today! 11 women share soul-stirring moments that tingle the spine and touch the Divine.

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illustration of woman in awe holding a gold star
Irene Rinaldi
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How have you experienced awe? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

After my younger brother and his wife welcomed their first child into the world, I had the honor of driving them home from the hospital. As I looked at my newborn niece for the first time, I was overwhelmed with feelings of joy, love, and amazement. A new life had entered the world. What a miracle! I marveled at her perfect tiny features. And with such precious cargo on board, you can believe I drove as carefully as possible to get them home. I still cherish that experience. And I still find moments of awe as my niece reaches different milestones—first words, first steps, first time saying my name or wishing me happy birthday.

The emotion of awe—often experienced when we hold a newborn in our arms, encounter vast landscapes, marvel at an evocative work of art, or stare up at a multitude of stars—is not just moving, it has also been found to have significant health benefits. Research suggests that awe can improve our mood, increase life satisfaction, and even reduce symptoms of stress. Awe has also been associated with lower levels of inflammation, which is linked to various chronic diseases. Furthermore, awe can enhance mental and physical health by influencing thought patterns, social behavior, and physiology.

The good news is you don’t have to climb a mountain every day to be awestruck. As these benefits are not limited to awe experienced in grand scenarios. Even watching awe-inducing videos or reading awe-evoking stories can improve a person’s well-being. Therefore, incorporating experiences of awe into your daily life is a realistic goal that could improve your overall health and well-being.

Research suggests that awe can improve our mood, increase life satisfaction, and even reduce symptoms of stress. Awe has also been associated with lower levels of inflammation, which is linked to various chronic diseases.

We asked several women to share a personal experience of awe. Hopefully they’ll inspire you to seek out your own and reap the benefits. [Accounts have been edited for length and clarity.]

Over the Rainbow

“Until a decade or so ago, I avoided window seats on planes like a slug to salt. In my mind’s eye, window seats were simply front rows to the spectacle of a death spiral. So, when assigned a window seat that separated me from my family on a flight home from Costa Rica in 2010, I did my mightiest to try and persuade my middle- and aisle-row seatmates to switch. The aisle, the middle, where did not matter—just please, Lord, not the window!

To my horror, my seatmates refused to budge. They wouldn’t even make eye contact. Despite my desperation, I had no choice but to take a deep breath and remain seated.

As we were taking off, we flew over a brilliant double rainbow. (It never even occurred to me that you could fly over one!) It was a ‘take my breath away’ moment that has marked me for life. God was saying, ‘No need to fear. I have a surprise in store.’

Had I sat anywhere else, including with my family on the other side of the plane, I would have surrendered my moment of awe. Fear nearly duped me out of a miracle, but grace intervened.” –Linda Drummond Johnson, Elmont, New York

Through the Eyes of a Child

“It's hard to describe in words the sense of awe and wonder I get from experiencing the world again through the eyes of my children. It's a joy watching them evolve and grow into the adults they will become.” – Chandra Whitfield, Denver, Colorado

Fly Like a Bird

“Music has always been awe-inspiring to me (so much so that my AOL Instant Messenger name as a teen was music1love). I have always felt a keen sense of emotional connection to my favorite songs. One song in particular that affected me deeply and still does to this day is 'Fly Like a Bird' by Mariah Carey. This song made me feel a spiritual connection that I never felt before.

Listen: Fly Like A Bird - YouTube Music

At 17 years old, I was self-professed agnostic, but I felt my idea of faith shifting when I listened to Mariah’s words. That song still affects me today. The passion and resolve I hear throughout the bridge, the ad-libs professing to “carry me higher Lord,” and her culminating whistle note make me believe I can fly like a bird as the title says. This song is a beautiful mix of love and strength that truly uplifts me.” – Loweï Diedro, New York, New York

It was a ‘take my breath away’ moment that has marked me for life. God was saying, ‘No need to fear. I have a surprise in store.’

Bayou Bliss

“Seeing chickens and roosters randomly walking around brings me a delight I don't know how to explain. And every time I see a fish jump on Bayou St. John, it feels like I'm receiving a personal wink from The Divine.” – Nafeesa Saboor, New Orleans, Louisiana

Solar Spectacle

“In 2017, I got a spot on a group trip for the Great American Eclipse. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but I got a kick out of looking at the sky through my eclipse glasses and seeing the sun disappear. Then the moment came when someone said, 'You can take your eclipse glasses off now,' and I looked straight into the black hole in the sky covering the sun. I felt the wonder of the universe.

The sky had dimmed, except for along the horizon and the light illuminating Mt. Hood. I felt like I’d entered a portal to an alternate universe where it could be cold and dark on a hot, bright summer day. Time stood still yet passed quickly, and way too soon it was just about over. Minutes later, things were back to normal and the whole thing felt like a dream.” – Tricia Nelson, Burbank, California

A Light in the Darkness

“We keep a nightlight over the sink in the bathroom. At night, my wet hands look like they're made of shimmering stars by its light. Even in the mundane parts of my everyday life, I'm reminded that I am part of something larger.” – Donyae Coles, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Thrill Ride

“I recently attended a retreat and made a new friend who is wheelchair bound. On the last day, she asked me to push her to the meeting room. I gladly obliged and asked if I could run as I pushed her. She said yes.

We set off, shouting for everyone in our way to move to the left or right. People parted like the Red Sea so that we could whiz down the middle of the corridor to the meeting room. Half laughing and half scared, she suggested that I slow down, but she didn’t sound convincing.

When we were all getting ready to head home, she stopped me. She mentioned that before her injury she had dreamed of getting on an amusement park ride. However, that dream was never fulfilled, and she mourned the loss of that dream.

A bit teary eyed, she explained that flying down the hallway had given her the same thrill she would expect from an amusement park ride. She was so filled with gratitude for what I had done.

Who knew a silly act of wheeling someone down a corridor at high speed could have such an impact? My heart was filled with awe!” – A. Martin-Cuffe, Queens, New York

Animal Magnetism

“Whenever I'm in the presence of horses, my body softens, and my heart expands. The world shifts into a daydream, my imagination soars, and anything that I could ever desire seems to become a possibility.” – Bella Graham, Beverly Hills, California

True Believer

“As a Christian, awe-inspiring experiences remind me that God is the creator of heaven and earth, and that He will never leave me or forsake me. And I believe a recent experience will inform the remaining trajectory of my life.

In April, I travelled to New York from Canada to attend a Global Prayer Conference for Revival at the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church. I anticipated that this would be a life-changing event, but I was still not prepared for what occurred.

On the first day, as we were all gathered in the building praising, worshipping, and praying, the presence of the Holy Spirit came in as a rushing wind and overwhelmed me. My body felt different, and at times I thought I would pass out—not because I felt ill, but because I was overwhelmed by the strong presence of the Lord in that space.

The thousands of believers from all over the United States and around the world that had come together in one accord to seek His presence also gave me so much hope, joy, and peace. I remain awed by that experience.” – D. Francis, Barrie, Ontario

Mountain High

“Standing on my street and gazing up at the Blue Mountains of the Walla Walla Valley is what makes me feel at home. The Blues are in my earliest memories, and I hope they will be among the final flickers that play before my eyes.” – Nikki Brueggeman, Walla Walla, Washington

Seeing the Light

“Have you ever really looked at shadows? They can be crisp and sharp in the silver after-rain light, soft and comforting in the warm light of a sunny day or overlapping dapples under a light forest canopy. The natural interplay of light and dark is the simplest, most consistently absorbing and awe-inspiring thing that gives me strength.” – Carole E., London, England


Tips for Experiencing Awe

Feeling awe can greatly enrich your experiences and overall well-being. And it doesn’t have to be dramatic. Here are some of the simple ways I cultivate a sense of awe in my everyday life—perhaps they’ll help you too:


1. Practice Mindfulness: Pay attention to the present moment and fully engage your senses. Notice the intricate details of your surroundings—whether it's the delicate petals of a flower, the sound of birds singing, or the way light streams through a window.
2. Seek out Nature: Spend time in natural environments such as parks, forests, mountains, or beaches. Nature has a way of evoking awe with its grandeur, beauty, and complexity.
3. Appreciate Small Moments: Awe doesn't always come from incredible experiences; it can also be found in small, everyday moments. Take time to appreciate simple pleasures like a sunrise, a child's laughter, or a delicious meal.
4. Explore New Places: Step out of your comfort zone and go somewhere you’ve never visited before—whether it's a nearby town, a cultural landmark, or a museum. Traveling abroad and experiencing different cultures can also evoke a sense of wonder and awe.
5. Contemplate Existence: Reflect on the mysteries of existence, such as the vastness of the cosmos, the complexity of life, or the miracle of consciousness. These existential topics can evoke a profound sense of awe and wonder—so can spiritual practices like worship, prayer, and meditation.

By incorporating any of these things into your daily life, you can promote a greater sense of awe and wonder, improve your health, and develop a deeper appreciation for the world around you.

How have you experienced awe? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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