The first religious experience (by which I mean, an experience in church, which is not necessarily a religious experience and in my case, certainly not) that I can remember, I must confess, involved those markers that smell fruity. We had each been given a copy of the 23rd Psalm, and were decorating it with markers and such. I had never encountered those markers and thought they were terrific. I keep sniffing my 23rd psalm later to see if the smell remained.
That is also the last experience at that Unitarian church that I can remember with any detail. I was about 12, we'd moved to an area closer to a UU church, so my parents took me. I finally complained to them that all we did was "talk about our feelings and eat donuts." They had already done the whole church thing with their first set of kids, so they were happy to go back to Sunday mornings of reading the newspaper and puttering around the house.
About a year later, I went to UCC Summer Camp with a friend of mine, who went to a UCC church. One week of being in nature, staying in screened cabins and taking cold showers, singing "I found happiness, I found peace of mind, I found the joy of living, perfect love sublime, oh I found real contentment, happy living in accord, I found happiness all the time, wonderful peace of mind, when I found the Lord."
I remember that week, and the week the following summer when I returned, in great sensory detail. The feeling of holiness sitting on a stone bench during the worship time. The feeling of warmth and closeness when we discussed God. Praying, s'mores, crafts, friendship. Singing, singing, singing. Silently meditating, sitting on the stone bench, the only light coming from the moon.
Now, it's not fair to compare the two. Sunday morning and summer camp are two different things. But it makes me think about what opportunities we're giving our kids for religious experiences.
And adults, for that matter.
I had already written the above post when I found this sermon of Rev. Anthony David's. It's good. "Amen" out loud good. What Kind of Unitarian Universalist Are You?