We were supposed to be packing up to fly home the next morning. The end of our family vacation was inevitable and my “to do” list was getting all of my attention. I was very focused on which bathing suits were still damp – that we still needed to get our bags packed – and that we needed to take care of countless details to make sure we were prepared for a long travel day. Then I looked up and pressed pause. The spectacular color of the sky as the sun was setting, sinking silently into the ocean, was a reminder to refocus on something bigger. I recognized that familiar feeling – the one that temporarily stopped me from worrying about things like packing bags and checking passports.
Moments of awe. You know the ones. They halt you in your tracks and you have no choice but to pay attention? These moments are often fleeting and seem impossible to describe, but we all know the feeling we get when we witness something awe-inspiring. We’ve all had them: whether it is a blazing sunset, standing at the edge of an ocean while the waves crash against the shore, looking up at a majestic mountain or seeing a rainbow splash across the sky.
Regardless of the different moments of awe we may each experience, new studies show that this dramatic feeling has the power to inspire, heal, change our thinking and bring people together. Whether we are facing a great vista—or a beautiful starry sky—we realize we’re a small part of something much larger. Our thinking shifts from me to we.
These moments of awe are reminders stop, take notice of the beauty around us and be inspired, or even transformed, by the experience. Whether it is standing at the Grand Canyon on the 4n4 trip or seeing Camp from atop Hackensack for the very first time as a Frosh, we have countless opportunities to experience awe each summer.
For me, every single Friday night when we sit all together as a community for Services and Friday Night Live, I make a point of looking up. Often, the soundtrack to my moment of awe is the alma mater, but it’s the scenery that gets me each time.
Without fail, what I see leaves me awe-struck. I know when I look up from my little spot at CEL I will see the silhouette of the “pine trees tall…how I love them all.” I know the backdrop of the sky on an Adirondack summer evening will be breathtaking. I know that when I scan my eyes back to the benches I will see siblings, cousins, friends, campers and staff standing arm in arm singing the same song that could have been heard decades before. Yet each and every Friday night, I am moved. I am reminded that I am a part of something bigger than myself. I am reminded that I am so lucky to spend my summers in a place where I simply need to look up to feel a sense of awe, a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose and always overwhelming gratitude.
Of course, I sometimes forget to look up and get caught up in worries and to do lists, but it only takes a moment to find something that takes your breath away. Whether it is at camp, out west or in the middle of a bustling city, I hope you look up and notice something awe-some every single day!