Reverence is one of the practices in the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy and the focus of our Reverence Project. It encompasses awe, amazement, radical respect, courtesy, and civility. It acknowledges that the sacred is in, with, above, and under the ten thousand things in our everyday world. As a way of seeing, being, and acting in life, it is a transformational practice for both individuals and society at large.
Jonah Paquette, a licensed clinical psychologist, speaker, and author approaches this spiritual practice from the vantage point of awe and psychology. He used to think of awe as "a sort of luxury, a happy bonus that occurs on rare or special occasions." But now he sees it in a much broader and amplified perspective. It is an essential part of a life well lived as well as a healing balm for such societal ills as loneliness, addiction, stress, and trauma.
Paquette takes some cues from psychologists William James, Abraham Maslow, and Viktor Frankl who opened up new vistas for understanding awe as creating social connection, increasing generosity and kindness, and breeding curiosity. He concludes that the benefits of being awestruck include being happier, less materialistic, able to grow and change, and being more humble. Instead of only seeking awe experiences by marveling at the vastness of the universe, Paquette challenges us to savor "the extraordinary in the ordinary." Opportunities for awe are all around us. We were impressed with the author's "awe portfolio" (see excerpt) and his suggestions for seeing awe in others.