It was the most awe-inspiring and compelling moment I have ever shared with a group of people – a sort of tandem levitation of soul and spirit that left me altered and undone. I was on a bus tour with my husband, some friends and family, and others I only loosely knew. We were working our way across Europe visiting one quaint little “Hummel” village after another breathtaking castle scene in the Alps. The daily vistas were straight out of some old-world romantic fairy tale. The tour had been amazing, but our traveling companions were rather like a group of high school misfits. The “good kids” (read: nerds) rode up at the front of the bus and were very well behaved and orderly, while the rest of us were in the back cutting up and irritating the model students. There was a tight-knit group of “fifty and free” women who were traveling together and they were the class clowns – always laughing and pranking. You really would have thought they had just been released from detention. Riots and mayhem it was, with many a cold glance from the front.
I remember that someone was playing old Elvis tunes as we drove. The general mood of the day was light. We were scheduled to drive up the Grossglockner Alpine Highway – a panoramic mountain pass in Austria. The Grossglockner is the highest of Austria’s Alps and the ascent is spectacular. The trouble with Alpine trails is that the weather has to cooperate with you or you can’t see the beauty, and it can be very treacherous. Everything was lining up to yield the perfect conditions and we were on our way.
The highway is a combination of switchbacks and hairpin turns that wind their way up the mountain. It is not a drive for the faint of heart – especially in a huge multi-passenger tour bus. As we began the ascent, the mood was happy and upbeat. People were laughing and festive. It was clear and bright inside and outside of the bus. With every twist and turn the view became increasingly captivating as more beauty was revealed. Little by little, a sense of awe came over us. It was the misfits at the back of the bus who were hit first. Laughing and teasing melted into silence and then to tears. One by one the entire bus fell under the spell of what I can only say was majesty. Majesty. Sheer Majesty.
Within a short time the bus was completely silent. Only sniffles and teardrops remained. ALL of us were under the enchantment of the forest and mountain grandeur. Not one soul survived untouched. We drove for miles in complete reverence. We had entered a holy space, and we all knew it. Old and young, rich and less, father and child, naughty and nice – it was an epidemic that knew no bounds. We were ruined. Awestruck.
I remember feeling at the time that this was a highly unique experience and marveling that even in this very diverse crowd the power of Wonder was an equalizer. We sat still together and worshiped – each in our own way – in the power of that moment. For me, a belief in God is a personal truth that rests quietly at the core of who I am. It gently leads and guides me in loving people and living. As we reached the top of the summit there was a cluster of clouds hanging right over the edge of the mountain range. It was my conviction in that moment, and still, that God was walking the high places of the earth that day. That is what we felt. Nothing else could equalize and unite a group with such galvanizing power. We were all one and all connected in that moment.
When we reached the summit we all got out and absorbed the vista from the viewing deck. Before long we were back in our cliques, shopping and talking like always. We went on about our day, but we were not the same. For me, letting myself open up to the wonder of this experience expanded my mind and my soul. I was a little broader of spirit, a little more open and alive. It is the power of awe that does that. It changes us – if we let it. Science is beginning to support this idea as well. It seems that there is great benefit from letting yourself be overcome with awe.
Take a look at this exceptional video about just that:
And what does all this have to do with Goodness you ask? The message of Goodness hinges on this –Goodness must be stirred up in you so that it pours out on others. The Goodness that lies dormant in you must be activated so it can do its job – making more Goodness! Awe and wonder are great stimulants for the soul. They wake us up and alert us to hope. As the video says, “regular incidences of awe leave residual benefits upon the individual which persist, such as increased feelings of empathy and compassion toward others, increased feelings of altruism, and increased feelings of general well-being.” That sounds like Goodness to me.
As you go about your life be open to letting in awe. It will enlighten you!
If this post has connected with you please share it with others. We would be happy to know that Goodness is on the move.
Did you know that feeling awe is awesome for you? Learn about how being awestruck can improve Goodness in your life!