“Looking at the Earth and the universe from the standpoint of awe, wonder and radical amazement at the grandeur and magnificent mystery of all being. That’s what the new bottom line is about.” ~ Rabbi Michael Lerner
Awe is a transformative emotion because it puts us face-to-face with mystery, conjuring up curiosity and a deep sense of aliveness. One of the biggest elicitors of awe is Nature. Its majesty humbles us, while at the same time reminding us of our role in the great web of existence.
In particular, lifting our gaze connects with the part of the brain associated with meditative and contemplative activity, through which we can “reach beyond the bounds of nearby time and space into the infinite and eternal,” as described by Colin Ellard.
Invitation for Practice
We don’t need to visit the Grand Canyon in order to feel awe. Recent research suggests that simply staring up at a tall tree might have a surprising impact.
- Sit or stand under the tallest tree in your neighborhood. If you find yourself in an environment without trees, you can engage in this practice by visualizing one.
- Look up its trunk and feel the grandeur of its architecture.
- Imagine the ecosystem of birds, insects, and organisms for which this tree is a home; visualize the sap carrying nutrients from the ground to the highest branches; envision the underground network of connections to nearby trees and plants.
- Rejoice in sharing the world with such luminous, generous, gentle giants.
- Vow to be an ally and advocate for their wellbeing.
- Let your reverent actions be your thanksgiving; your acts of service, your gift in return.
We invite you to share your reflections in the space below the author bio.
Enjoy the full seven-day Nourishing Our Nature practice.
Fabiana Fondevila is a writer and teacher from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her latest book, “Where Wonder Lives: Practices for Cultivating the Sacred in Your Daily Life” was published in February 2021. Fabiana teaches online workshops and seminars on living a life of awe and radical aliveness. You can learn more about her offerings at FabianaFondevila.com. She is also a founding member of Vivir Agradecidos, our organizational partner in Argentina.
Image by Michael Bryant/Unsplash
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There is a giant old legacy tree down by the stream. I lookk forward to trying this with her. Thanks!
I have a beautiful balcony off of my bedroom. The reason I purchased this home is the awe inspiring bald Cypress that lives outside my door. I call this my adult tree house. I am sitting here, close to years, simply being in it’s presence. It’s become my friend and confidant. I vow to protect it and it’s neighboring siblings. I am firmly aware of it’s being-ness.
I have a walking meditative garden on the back 1/3 of our acre. The trees are 200-300 feet tall and sway so beautifully in the breezes and winds off Lake Michigan. They catch the last afternoon sun and glisten and glow. It’s truly a “dance” I welcome myself to join in on. I have had the sacred experience of trees “talking” to me. It took me to that Celtic “Thin Place”
There is a beautiful tall regal pine tree in the park in front of my house. It has stood tall and proud for what I would guess would be over 100 years. The life coming in and out of its branches has always been something I’ve enjoyed experiencing as it is a home to so many creatures. Now, due to drought, it is dying. My heart is sad for this gentle giant and all of the trees in my area of California that are in need of water. This practice is a call to me to do more for our trees and forests to protect them from fire and early death. Any suggestions are welcome.
Perfect way to start the practice. I have always had an affinity for trees. When I am out in the woods (as often as possible) I make time for communion. This is a lovely way to connect. I have a particularly large Hemlock at my local sanctuary that I enjoy sitting under. Any tree will do, they all have stories to tell, and they are all about our connectedness <3
Thank you for this delightful invitation to begin our practice. After breakfast today I walked to my favourite woodland and visited its oldest resident. This 450-year-old oak tree is a gentle giant, home to an unimaginable number of birds and insects over the centuries, and was probably an acorn itself when Shakespeare was writing of acorns in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1595.
I stood gratefully below my towering twisted pine tree. I love the green soft needles that are oh so fragrant when you twist them! I recently had to trim one huge limb that was compromising the other plants in my entryway. Has been home to several bird nests and a bobcat kitten that regularly hung out and played in the branches. Wish the blog allowed pics. I would share my pine with you.
The tree selected me today. It would not let me pass without notice. So notice I did. Standing before me and reaching to the sky above the canopy, it was. I felt it’s presence deeply and it’s presence stays with me now …such majesty.
I am deeply grateful for the Scotch pine I hug whenever I walk in the park. It replaced one destroyed by a tornado in our area. So it is just a tad taller than me. But it’s scent and beautiful green needles speak to me of the Holy One who hugs me in many ways. Thank you beautiful tree!
What a peaceful reflexion!!! Almost daily, after my walk a hug a big Pine tree. What a profund sentiment. I talked to the tree and ask to help me to be grounded, and to be connected with Mother Nature and Heaven. The energy and feelings I have experienced are so deeply. I love to talk to plants, flowers,nad living creatures!!!
My gratitude to you Fabiana!!!
My neighborhood is dotted with magnificent redwood trees. I make it a point to walk almost everyday in order to commune/chat with these magnificent gifts from Source. I touch them, hug them, thank them, talk to them & remind myself daily how blessed I am to be in their company. When I stand under a redwood I feel small, insignificant & young. They remind me that what I am currently going thru is a blip compared to all they have gone thru in their long lives. It is truly humbling to stand under one of these “giants”. I am blessed beyond…..🙏❤️🙏
My father grew up in Sequoia National Park and my “tree” thoughts always go there first! For me they are not only miraculous giants reaching to the Heavens, they are reminders of my family’s human love for each other AND for the whole and holy Nature which we’ve valued since birth. I have been so blessed to know these ones personally.
In fact it was Brother David’s words (https://youtu.be/zSt7k_q_qRU) that completely transform the way I look at things around me. TODAY. – Is a gift. Its the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness…….” This recording inspired LOOK UP for me. Since then I have been looking up when I am walking around in the city, in the park. What is available to me everyday is the sky. So if I am not in the park to look at trees. He said “look at the sky, we so rarely look at the sky…………” So, every morning I wake up, I walk towards my window and look at the sky.. I take photo of changing cloud formation, I experience AWE, experience aliveness, gratefulness, joy.
My husband and I love to go walking in the woods and around lakes (even our vacations (before COVID) involved mostly walking and hiking on nature trails or along rugged coastlines).. We both love photography, so we bring our cameras along, and stop to commune with nature and take a photo to remind us of our visit. I also enjoy writing haiku, and many times when being present with a particular tree, a haiku will begin to form in my mind. I love to explore the connection between nature and human relationships, and these most often become haiku. I would like to share two haiku (inspired after visiting two special trees):
as roots dig deeply
and branches reach toward the sky,
so families grow.
like deep-rooted trees
surviving life’s twists and turns –
true friendships endure.
Thank you for this beautiful reflection. Living in Florida I often stand next to the magnificent Royal Palm trees and simply look up and admire their majesty, embrace the trunk with a warm touch, breathe, and offer prayers of gratitude. 🌴🌴🌴
Every year a few carefully selected trees in my neighborhood become the sites for nest building. Swallow tail kites arrive in the spring in order to build a special home where they lay their eggs. I have come to recognize their call. I look up to watch them soar so gracefully through the air. Their distinct tail gives them away. Sometimes I see one in solo flight, but most often there are 3 or 4.
It is always a delight. I watch for their arrival with anticipation and only slightly grieve their departure in August. Yes, they have gone back home now, but I will look forward to them again next year. In the mean time I listen to the cardinals sing and the occasional owls hoot.