Chaplain's Corner ~ Awe of the moment

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jason R. Gilleland
  • Special Warfare Training Wing/ Chaplain Office



“If we want to discover who we are we must begin by looking outside of ourselves.”


A couple of years ago, my family took a trip to the Grand Canyon. While hiking the trails, my wife and I frequently found ourselves pausing to take in the magnificence of the massive canyon. One could not help but feel small in comparison to this national treasure. Although we were caught up in the awe of the magnitude, this was certainly not the case for everyone. As I looked around, I noticed kids on their phones that seemed to be unimpressed by the scenery.


Research shows that when humans experience awe, we become less focused on ourselves and our problems and more in tune to those around us. The wonder we experience when we find ourselves awestruck at canyons, colosseums, mountains or paintings, makes us acutely aware of how small we are, and in turn helps us to be more aware of those around us. 


From a spiritual perspective, awe of our creator helps us worry less about ourselves and our own problems by first turning our attention toward him, then toward others. It also helps establish our self-worth in the best possible way so that we understand both our insignificance within creation and the significance of our Creator. However, much like a child on a phone at the foot of the Grand Canyon, we can sometimes miss the magnificence, even when it is right in front of us.


Awe naturally leads to self-forgetfulness. If we want to discover who we are, we must begin by looking outside of ourselves.  


While self-forgetfulness may seem counter intuitive, at times it is necessary to discover the truth about who we are and to remind us to recognize the things which inspire awe. So, what inspires you? What leaves you feeling awestruck?