Rediscovering our sense of awe

Renowned Australian photographer Ken Duncan reminds us to slow down, enjoy, and be thankful for the beauty around us


Have you ever wondered why days seemed to last forever when you were a child and now it feels as if we blink and another week is over?

The pace of life is faster than ever and we can trip over just trying to keep up. We have all this technology to make life easier, yet no invention that can slow down time.

A 2012 study published in Psychology Today revealed the real problem. We're suffering from a chronic lack of awe.

For the study some subjects watched funny imagery while others watched 'awe-inspiring' imagery. Those who watched the 'awe-inspiring' imagery felt like they had more time, as if the minutes had slowed down.

And it makes sense.

During our childhood we likely spent countless hours outdoors looking up at the clouds or the magnificent night sky.

But as we get older we tend to stop looking up and spend more time looking down at computer screens and smart devices.

My basic philosophy is best summed up by these words: "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans chapter 1 verse 20).

I consider myself an average photographer with a great God; I'm merely an interpreter of God's creation.

“The only appropriate response is overwhelming gratitude”

My 'office' is the lush rainforests of the Daintree, desert wonders like Uluru, and our magnificent, endless beaches. I've travelled the world interpreting God's creation and I've come to realize that the only appropriate response is an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

Gazing into crystal clear water at the foot of a glorious, roaring waterfall is like staring into the face of God, truly comprehending his creative nature and his rich blessings.

"Walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen colour and design quite like it? The 10 best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them" (Matthew chapter 6 verse 29).

Take a moment to really stop and smell the roses; lie on your back and stare up at the stars, just like you used to when you were a child.

Perhaps over the years it's not just your childlike sense of awe that's left you, but also your childlike faith.

Maybe it's time to recapture that, too.

"Enter with the password: 'Thank you!' Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him'" (Psalm 100 verse 4).

Ken Duncan

When we truly immerse ourselves in God's creation, we can't help but be thankful. It creates a certain sense of perspective – the same God who created the universe is taking care of each one of us.

I believe God has an incredible destiny for Australia and for us as Australians. As we start to say 'Thank you', [God] will start to open up those doors even more.

At a time when there is so much fear and anxiety around the world, what is the answer? I believe the answer is faith and thankfulness for what God is going to do. Our help and our hope are in him.

The National Day of Thanksgiving is on Saturday 27 May 2017. It's an opportunity for us to stop, as a nation, and say 'thanks' to God and to each other for the blessings we all enjoy.

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