Spirituality

A Direct Experience


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Have you ever had an experience of profound peace, love, or awe?

Some people call these experiences a “spiritual experience” because it feels like deep connection.

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Here are a few spiritual experiences that grownups describe happening to them in their childhood.

Do you notice any patterns in the stories?

Stefan’s Story 
“While sitting on a rock, I watched the pretty trees surrounding me. After a few minutes, I started feeling connected to the rock and the trees. It then appeared to me that the rock, the trees, and myself were part of a whole much greater than ‘Little Stefan.’”

An Anonymous Boy’s Story
“It was a hot summer Sunday afternoon, and I was lying on my back in a [small group of trees] lost in reverie. I was not really thinking of anything, and then my mind went blank — suddenly I found myself surrounded, embraced, by a white light, which seemed to both come from within me and from without, a very bright light but quite unlike any ordinary physical light. I was filled by an overwhelming sense of Love, of warmth, peace and joy — a Love far, far greater than any human love could be — utterly accepting, giving, compassionate total Love.”

Dana’s Story
“It was early one morning, and I was sitting outside our house on a cinder block wall that was to be a foundation for a garage. I was facing and gazing at a chain-link fence that had honeysuckle all grown into it. The morning light was so soft, and the dew was sparkling on everything. It was almost like sensory overload. I was totally absorbed by the smells, the way the light was. And then the world just seemed to stop and I was completely transfixed. I had a sense of perfection, and I don’t know how I grasped this at three years old, but I clearly did. It was a very distinct sense that everything is perfect — this is absolutely perfect.”

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Have you ever felt connected to something beyond yourself? Write about the experience using the following questions as a guide:

  • Where were you and what were you doing?
  • Who was with you? Or were you alone?
  • How did you feel?

If you can’t think of an experience, write down a moment when you have felt love, peace or in awe of something — even a small, simple moment.

these experiences are not something people can create or control, we can all create an environment to invite in moments of connection and awe.

Discuss:

  • What can we do to have more of these experiences?

Choose your own adventure: Talk about one thing you’d like to do individually or collectively to cultivate experiences of awe.

  • Listen to music
  • Meditate or pray
  • Go on a nature walk at dusk and point out beauty
  • Provide service for someone in need
  • Dance alone or in a group

Discuss:

  • What is one thing we want to start doing to make these moments more common in our lives?

Spirituality and Music

If it feels like it would be helpful, you can end by listening to a song that moves you.

Here’s one possibility that may be moving if everyone is in a quiet, contemplative mood (a big if!):  “O Magnum Mysterium,” by the American composer Morten Lauridsen. Composed in 1994 and based around Gregorian choral pieces, this piece aims to bring the listener to a transcendent mood. Talking about the piece, Lauridsen said, “I wanted this piece to resonate immediately and deeply into the core of the listener, to illumine through sound.”

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

examples of spiritual experiences