Friday, May 4, 2007

Spiritual Autobiography- High School

This post begins my series of posts from my Senior Seminar spiritual autobiography. The goal of the paper is for me to reflect on my spiritual and philosophical growth over my college years, but I started with high school because I feel my transformation is much more interesting to read with high school in mind. I'm skipping the intro part of my paper in order to get to the juicier stuff...

Tracks 3&4: Good Day Sunshine and She Loves You

I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I've got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I'm in love and it's a sunny day
-“Good Day Sunshine” John Lennon and Paul McCartney

I see high school as a time of spiritual innocence for me, which is why I’ve picked two earlier Beatles songs to represent this time. My attitude towards everything spiritual was much easier going, and Christianity made perfect sense to me. I felt that I had a good handle on my religion. I was a leader in my youth group and well known in my church and people were always asking me if I’d ever thought about going into the ministry.

Some of the most formative spiritual experiences during my high school years came through my involvement in my denomination’s regional youth Cabinet. As a member of cabinet I was involved in planning all sorts of events like camps and retreats, but one of the things I loved planning the most was worship. I loved the music, the chills I felt when a large group of teenagers raised their voices in song for the same purpose- worship. When I would pray in front of a large group, I never wrote down what I wanted to say, because I trusted the words that were necessary would come to me. Communion meditations were my favorite, and the words of institution were especially meaningful to me.

The event which impacted me the most spiritually, that was a definite “a-ha!” moment for me in my Christian faith occurred on a mission trip. While staying and working at the Heifer International Ranch my youth group was given the opportunity to experience what it is like to spend a night in a third world country. As part of the experience we were given resources for the evening so that we could eat and make a fire. One of those resources was the most unlikely vehicle for my spiritual revelation- a rabbit.

We had the option of harvesting the rabbit, but if we were going to use it for food those of us who would partake in it had to be present for its death. As a group we decided our experience wouldn’t be complete without a little rabbit stew, so the Heifer volunteers prepared the animal for us. As I sat there during the moment of silence we had for the animal, it hit me- I was so selfish. Just because I had a want, a craving for meat, this animal was giving up its life that I may continue mine. Suddenly there was no longer a life-less rabbit stretched before me, but rather a crucified man. I jumped up to help with the harvest because having the blood on my hands figuratively just wasn’t enough; I needed a literal representation of my guilt.

I left that mission trip with a greater appreciation of sacrifice, and a better understanding of human nature. I was sickened by just how much I took for granted; just how much I felt I needed or deserved. I felt that the blood of Jesus’ crucifixion was on my hands because I took so much for granted and had mistreated the people and the world around me. I remember many nights in high school where I felt like I wanted to crawl under the carpet to escape from God, to escape my guilt.

I continued on my Christian youth-leader path through the rest of high school, but before I knew it, it was time to graduate. I gave my senior sermon, said my good-byes and headed off to William Woods University to study American Sign Language interpreting. I knew God had a plan for me, and this is where I was to be. My renewed faith and I headed off to college together, but not for long.


gabe said...

Although I've heard you tell me the story of that rabbit before, you very eloquently lay it all out here. I know what you mean about that guilt-- maybe it's just the catholic in me relating, but I too have had my nights of wanting to crawl under the carpet.

I can't wait to read the rest of it. You are far more compelling that you give yourself credit for.

Also, I can't wait to snuggle to the Beatles Soundtrack to your autobiography. ;)

Love, Gabe

lindsey said...

Thank you for your kind words Gabriel...
But we are NOT snuggling to my existential crisis. :-P

Haha...oh my.

I'm just glad it's finally done.