Thursday, March 05, 2009

From Fear to Awe, Part II

From An Altar in the World:
"Reverence stands in awe of something--something that dwarfs the self, that allows human beings to sense the full extent of our limits--so that we can begin to see one another more reverently as well."
Living in awe means many things. The phrase is not inextricably tied to religion, although it certainly implies an understanding of something greater than the self.

Living in awe
means paying attention (or noticing), appreciating, and accepting that we do not have ultimate control (although we can impact how our lives play out).

I've always sought more--deep connections, meaningful experiences. And I've found these things in expected, comfortable places. But I've also found them in darker places, where I never thought I wanted to be.

I've learned that to live in awe, we need to recognize greatness and beauty in everyday life while understanding the limits of what we can do (or know). We shouldn't be complacent, but should respect and celebrate the life that we have.

I learned to breathe--to feel the power of my own breath--the day before my brain surgery. As I sat in a beautiful rose garden near the mission in Santa Barbara, an older gentleman caught my attention. He was, wearing only running shorts and a smile. He was lunging, very slowly and with purpose, from one foot to the other. He was taking deep breaths, obviously loving what he was doing. I'd guess this was his daily ritual and routine. It was a physical and spiritual activity, this lunging and breathing. He seemed to be drawing on the power of the earth itself, and I felt it, too. I knew immediately that I was meant to see him, to notice.

When Bridget was born and I was in the phase of trying to figure it all out, I was unsure of many things. I felt off-balance, and a little scared. I spent the first 24 hours after Bridget's birth without her. She needed surgery and was taken to another hospital. I don't like thinking about that first day, there was so much sadness.

But another epiphany came despite the darkness--or more likely, because of it. I can tell you the moment it all started to swing, the moment I felt awe instead of fear about our new life with Bridget. She was sleeping peacefully, recovering from her surgery. Chris and I were standing together, studying her, completely absorbed in her and in that moment. We'd been so quiet following her birth, not knowing how to console each other or how to sort it all out. I've said it before, how it occurred to us at the same time, how we looked at each other and smiled. We had the same realization at the same time: Bridget is ours, she is whole and she is perfect. There are no mistakes, we are all perfectly made.

We are all perfect and imperfect at the same time. Bridget has given us the gift of seeing both our own potential and our own limits, and of seeing people without distinction by side-stepping artificial boundaries which separate and belittle. She's given us a lesson in reverence, in understanding that there is something greater while celebrating the life that is ours.


  1. Beautiful words Lisa. Just beautiful. I feel blessed to be in this wonderful community of mothers. I hope to meet you someday!

  2. Thank you, and I feel the exact same way :)...

  3. How wonderful. Humility is a big part of awe it seems.

  4. wow. humbled, reverent in my own way, large and small at the same time, beautifully put and full of love, wonder, and perfectly put at how we arrive at the moment of awe of our beautiful girls.


  5. I sometimes feel that words cannot truly capture and express this journey - but your words have done just that.
    Thank you.

  6. Another beautiful post that captures so much of we all go through. I think I need to go read this book.

  7. "We are all perfect and imperfect at the same time". This was perfectly said!!!.

    Your words are so beautiful, they are filled with so much LOVE. :)

    Thank you so much for sharing ~