What is it that makes the difference between feeling inspired by time with my church family and the sense that it was no different to being on the train or at the shops?
This morning, playing my flute, I felt lifted by the people around me. All of my attention was on the here and now. I wasn't blushing for my mistakes, even though they were still there. I didn't think about what I might cook for dinner or over-analyse other people's behaviour. Somehow, we were all praising God together, listening, revelling in a connection with God and with each other. I know that none of us knew what anyone else was thinking, but unspoken understanding was in the air. Was I breathing it in, or did it sink through my pores? What is the part of me that is attuned to other people in that wordless way? I can't predict when it's going to be evident, but I want to listen to it more.
Is it particular people or places which bring it out in us? Do some people know the secret of connecting that way? And if they do, I'm assuming they can use it to their own advantage if they choose to.
I once knew a guy who was writing a PhD on religious experience. He looked at faith, church and God in a pretty clinical way, although I think his interest had been sparked by personal experience. By trying to understand, explain or quantify do I take away from the experience?
I could examine it from a few different angles... Is it that my pre-frontal dopamine circuits get a buzz from a particular set of circumstances? Did the way I was feeling from the weekend, and a week off work, set me up for a good experience? Were the people who were there, participating, the ones I feel the closest affinity with?
I assume that lots of things have influenced my Sunday morning experience. Maybe it depends on the language I use to describe it. Somehow, my mind, body and heart were engaged unanimously, and fully in the present. I think that can be an intoxicating experience (not necessarily wild, but deeply invigorating). Joy and peace combine for a moment bringing contentment and a touch of possibility.
This is one of the songs which lifted my heart today.
What the Lord has done in me
Let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Let the blind say, "I can see"
It's what the Lord has done in me
To the Lamb that was slain
Jesus died and rose again
To the river I will wade
There my sins are washed away
From the heavens' mercy streams
Of the Savior's love for me
I will rise from waters deep
Into the saving arms of God
I will sing salvation songs
Jesus Christ has set me free
(Reuben Morgan, Hillsong)