(Here is a track I believe perfectly captures the mixed feelings of awe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ldx60GEL7Ck )
Awe is a confusing emotion - all at the same time it inspires fear, joy, wonder, peace. Furthermore, awe can be felt in a variety of situations:
- a large gathering of people such as a rally or mass
- a spiritual event in solitude
- a parent looking upon their child as a new life
- the presence of something very large (the Washington Monument, the Grand Canyon etc... during this song I imagine staring up at an immense sauropod dinosaur whose head reaches into the clouds), - perhaps awe can even be felt reading about an act of sheer love and kindness - a town that learned sign language to accommodate their deaf neighbor - a God who became man to experience weakness and death with us.
Wherever one experiences awe, I believe that awe seems to be an impetus for spiritual-esque consideration, perhaps that is even the best way to define it. Anywho... I believe awe is also sort of a spur-of-the-moment type thing. It is like a nightmare or a particularly good dream, which is stunning, terrifying and amazing while it happens, but once one is fully awake the feeling wears off - the nightmare no longer so terrifying, the dream no longer so great. From personal experience I can say that the Grand Canyon was much the same way - for the entire day that my family hiked, it was awe-inspiring, majestic, and photos absolutely don't do it justice. But it was only ultra-fantastic in that context. Two years later, away from the Grand Canyon, and knowing that it was formed by natural geological processes, it's just another tourist site (I still recommend it if you like to hike).
With a way to explain it, with words like 'cognitive dissonance' and 'mineral erosion' we have a sort of power over these things. They become less divine and more immanent outside their own context. Does knowing how 600,000 people got together make a 600,000 strong march any less impressive? Not when you're there. Does knowing the processes of fertilization and gestation make a child - a new human life - any less incredible? Not when you're the parent.
To conclude, I think that living in secular3 age means being told about an infinite number explanations for the sources of your awe, and how you should react to your awe - do you praise the Lord, praise men who built it or discovered it, praise nature etc?