First, a reflection from NPR:
"Earlier in the day, looking down the rim of a canyon [New York's Letchworth State Park] cut over thousands of years by the Genesee River, I felt a profound sense of awe that cut me to the quick."
"But in that sense of awe, was I communing with anything extending beyond just a particular state of my neurons? My joke about the gods aside, was there anything religious about the feeling I, an atheist, felt looking across that vast expanse of river, stone and still blue air?"
"It's about attention not attribution."
From "Is Atheist Awe a Religious Experience?"
by Adam Frank, Assistant Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Rochester, New York
Professor Frank's nature/human reflection is a refreshing experience. (Read the rest at NPR). His emphasis on wonder takes us in a different direction than the cold, dry comments by many other nontheists in recent years such as scientist Francis Crick's infamous statement: "You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules.” The Astonishing Hypothesis, 1994
Gee, thanks. No doubt Francis Crick would say a similar thing about the falls of Yosemite--'nothing more than atoms...'
I remember my own awe-filled experience half a dozen years back in Yosemite National Park. Usually, wonder doesn't lead to humor but in this case it did.
Yosemite Falling Again
Gallivanting through the Valley
Visually assaulted by
The white water rush,
For the natural user;
Millions of gallons
Cascading from sheer gasping
Gushing, Muirwonder-rushing Falls
Billions of liquid liters--
God, what a jolt!
You forget to shut
Off the sky’s
Previously published in selah river,
a third collection of my poetry
In the Light-splashed,