Memories of Mystery and Awe (1)

During Fall semester, 2009, along with my wife and two daughters, I spent about 4 months on sabbatical, living and teaching in a small community outside of Edinburgh, Scotland. Although the entire experience truly was amazing, one particular episode stands out. In some ways, this episode is what first inspired my interest in mystery and awe.

In September of that year, we explored the Isle of Skye, situated near the northwest coast. Words and pictures really cannot do my experience of this place justice. At various points during the weekend, I found myself in the midst of mountains, waterfalls, lakes, wildlife, strong winds, and ominous-looking clouds that make me feel emotions I do not recall having experienced before that point.IMG_4672

One particular experience most affected me. Upon our arrival, I went for a walk in which I was surrounded by mountains. I felt overwhelmed by the glory I witnessed. I stopped – dumbfounded – and gazed upward, where I saw the moon. It’s hard to explain, but this seemed to give me a sense of scale. I projected myself beyond my location, and then realized that even what I was observing is relatively small compared with the scope and grandeur of the entire universe. The whole experience left me feeling bedazzled. It also made me feel afraid, but not the kind of fear that I normally felt; rather, the fear I experienced emanated from a sense that I was in the presence of something much greater than myself. This episode raised many spiritual questions, which continue to this day. In fact, it was a turning point for me, as it sparked a change in which I started to view religious and spiritual phenomena less from a point of logic and reason and more from a point of experience.

Does my memory of Skye trigger any memories of mystery and awe for you? This site will be much richer if we hear from you. Feel free to comment below or, if you’d ever want to share your memory in greater depth by being a guest contributor to this blog, please e-mail me at


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