Let there be awe (OLW 2021)

Like many writers I am in the habit of selecting One Little Word (also known as One Word) at the beginning of a new year. It is a lens through which to view the craft of writing and, to me, the craft of living. A well-chosen OLW can guide to deeper meanings, connections, and creativity; it is a reflective tool, a restorative practice, sometimes a call to action. One little word can be a mighty force of reckoning.

In an earlier post, I wrote about not being in the frame of mind to choose a word for 2021 until I stumbled upon this quote in my planner. Surely I saw it there before, this tiny, tiny print, like a microscopic footnote, at the bottom of January 1st:

Experiencing awe (the feeling of being in the presence of something bigger than you) can improve your physical health and make you more altruistic. Intentionally create awe this month by spending time in nature, meditating, volunteering, etc.

It was like a shaft of sunlight through barren, tangled trees, an electric jolt through the settling-winter numbness of my brain.

Awe. It is familiar. One can’t be a writer, a reader, be around children, savor the healing mysteries of nature, have faith in Almighty God, without experiencing it. I’d never thought about awe improving physical health; certainly that stems from its effects on mental, emotional, spiritual health. Never thought about awe as a source of altruism, having the power to shift focus away from self to promoting the well-being of others. I certainly never thought about intentionally creating awe. Inviting awe, yes. I want to fling all the windows and doors of my entire being open for it. But creating it? I mean, isn’t awe a response to encountering the extraordinary, something much bigger than me? Am I capable of intentionally creating it? Seems a curious choice of words for something so spontaneously generated.

I sat looking at my planner, wondering…knowing in that moment awe had chosen me and there was nothing for it but to bow in reverential submission.

Immediately, I began to expect.

I can’t imagine all the ways awe will present itself this year. Trying to imagine kind of defeats the purpose. It’s more of a recognizing in the moment thing. I just know that awe is coming.

Truth of the matter…it’s all around, if I stop, if I am still enough, to sense it. If I let it be the lens through which to view the craft and artistry of being alive.

Awe is a matter of perspective…we can see it, if we try. It is tucked inside the ordinary. It lives in moments and outlasts time. It is tiny as coding in cells, as vast as the universe. The big picture book containing all of our life’s stories, for they are intertwined.

Keeping the heart open for it might even lead to a hand in creating it.

My sketch representing AWE in response to Carol Varsalona’s recent #K12ArtChat.
Can you see the word in the landscape?

I decided to run the sketch through the Deep Art Effects app.
The following were my favorite styles.
Wishing you AWE in 2021.
Be on the lookout for it.
Maybe make it happen.


with thanks to the awesome community at Two Writing Teachers
and to Carol Varsalona for the sketch inspiration

My most recent posts on the power of words:

Spiritual Word Journey – reflecting on being chosen by “awe”
When – a poem-prayer lament, composed of one word on each line

More on “awe” to come.

13 thoughts on “Let there be awe (OLW 2021)

  1. Being a writer is all about being open, aware of our surroundings, setting ourselves apart so as to let go of ego and observe with fresh eyes. You received a word that encompasses all of that…to experience awe, one must be willing to be open, humble enough to experience a greater joy–not to be less than, really, but making room for something or someone else to shine. I, too, am puzzled by the concept of creating awe, as it seems more of a passive (yet powerful) emotion. Looking forward to your further explorations of your OLW, Fran.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fran, this is another awesome post that has my mind revolving around your statement: “It is a lens through which to view the craft of writing and, to me, the craft of living. A well-chosen OLW can guide to deeper meanings, connections, and creativity; it is a reflective tool, a restorative practice, sometimes a call to action.” When I write my follow-up blog post for the #SlowK12ArtChat, I would like to add your thought because you hit on the essence of asking the one word strategy to guide our journey. Thank you for the mention in your post. I am delighted that awe has found you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Strange, isn’t it, how thoughts and inspiration can be so WILLFUL in eluding us. Here we are, humming along, quite sure that we’re done with this topic, or not thinking about that idea, when BAM. We get grabbed.

    You’ve given me an important reminder to live each day with my mind, eyes and heart open to the awe that surrounds each of us if only we’d just notice.

    As a side note? I also have to say how cool it is that your sketch takes on such different moods depending on the color and shading.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the imagery you bring us throughout this poem – the back and forth that passes (!) between father and child, the steady dribble and drum of Daddy…daddy…daddy. And the moment you give us of nostalgia, of that boy on the court? Beautiful. I can see how this poem is fun to play with. You know, it seems like sometimes the line breaks set themselves. For other poems, I could change it up each time I go back to reread. Thank you for this beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

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