I don’t know that this is a reason to reject any specific religious tradition, but it has made traditional religion of whatever type seem extraneous. As I said in a previous post, most of my God-experiences have not been in church. The one exception I related in an earlier post happened in a Catholic church, but it happened while Mozart’s Requiem Mass, and I attribute what happened to the haunting yet soothing music, not the service.
Examples. One year when I was living in Laramie, Wyoming, I was walking down Grand Avenue. I forget where I was going, because I looked off to the east and saw a massive, ginormous, totally out-of-hand thunderstorm forming in the sky. (If you’ve been out west, you know how those big skies can be suddenly filled with thunderheads that seem miles wide and tall.) I watched this sky as I walked and suddenly I was blocks past where I had been heading, because it was so beautiful yet ominous yet powerful that I couldn’t look away. Somehow, it wasn’t just a thunderstorm, or just clouds, and I was overwhelmed by it, then felt a remarkable sense of peace afterward. I figure that’s God.
Another: I was driving south from Laramie to Colorado on Highway 287 with a friend. (Note the Wyoming connection. Start the pilgrimages!) We had gotten a much later start than expected, and it was both dark and cloudy by the time we got going. Now, there’s a stretch of 287 near the Colorado/Wyoming border that leads through a mountain pass, and all around you are cliffs, low scrub pine, huge boulders, and dropoffs of 40 feet or more right at the edge of the highway. (One of my friends went over one of those dropoffs in an ice storm. She survived, but I don’t know how.) Anyway, I had only travelled this passage in the light before. But now, in the dark, it was looming and strange.
Then the full moon came out from behind the clouds, and this eerie and threatening landscape became magical; bathed in silvery light, it hardly seemed real that we were just driving through it. When my not-overly-emotional friend stopped the car to get something out of her bag, I stood on the edge of one of those dropoffs I mentioned and watched the argent shadows shift over the rocks and trees and even the prosaic two-lane highway. I remember wanting to jump off, not because I was suicidal, but because the only thing this seemed to call for was flight…flight to Something, I don’t even know what. I didn’t speak until we reached Fort Collins, nearly 45 minutes away. I figure that was God too.
Do other people have experiences like this? If so, where and how?