The beginning of my spiritual journey started when I was very young. I was baptized as a baby into the Christian faith. But the real journey started in 3rd grade. This was when Kanuga, an Episcopalian Conference Center, started to be important to me. Kanuga taught me that Christ does exist because I always feel a connection when my family goes for our church’s annual parish weekend. Starting in 3rd grade, one of the best parts about the parish weekend was the songs. That was when I started an interest in Christian music and when nature began to have a bigger meaning. It was through the combination of the songs and nature that made me feel close to God. The main place where nature connected me to God was when my family would go on a hike on one of the trails that Kanuga offered. It was always the view at the top that made me feel the closest to God, but I even felt the energy walking to the top.
Eventually the songs no longer were sung during the annual parish weekends. However the hikes still existed and eventually I started to lead the hikes. But because the singing stopped, it seems as if there was a little disconnect from God. In reality there never was because of the nature of the place and the hikes.
But the main Kanuga memory was “Winterlight”, an high school youth conference. It happened from December 27th to January 1st. That changed my spiritual perspective and was when my interest for Christian music turned into a love. I was in 11th grade when I first went to Winterlight. I knew there was going to be a lot of singing, a banquet, and a service project. I could not wait to see what the event will bring. It was a place where high school students could have fun because of the difficulty of high school. I made my first Winterlight friends the first day and some of them would be the closest friends I had that week. Everyday except for New Years Eve, I sang three times a day. The service project was a reason why my spirituality developed a lot during this event. At this Winterlight, we made blankets for migrant farm workers and we ended up blessing them during the final church service. The song, “Prince of Peace”, was first heard at the event and it became my favorite Christian song. After leaving the first one, I developed a tiny obsession over the event. I knew I was going to go again. My very last Winterlight was during my last year of high school and I was more emotional at that one. It was different for sure because the bond between my small group and cabin was different and even the relationship between my friends was different. Because I was aware there was a talent show, I got the chance to be it. I got to play the piano and perform with my small group. Our service project this time was “Stop Hunger Now” and we packaged twenty thousand meals. I loved the way they honored the seniors during this one. They held a candlelight vigil for us.
There are a number of reasons why Winterlight strengthen my spirituality a lot. It had to do a lot with the singing. The energy I heard during the singing was youthful and we all formed a connection. During high energy songs, we were clapping along to the music and during low energy songs, we would have a different energy. The service project played a part and being there in December during Christmas season also was a factor.
Once Winterlight ended, my spiritual journey did not end. It just started on a new path. I still volunteer with my family and go to church. During high school, I developed a deep connection for those living in poverty and homelessness. I knew God called me to serve that population. When college started, things got much harder. At this point, I still hardly prayed or read the bible. During college, I found a system of praying that worked for me, which was writing. God was able to listen and he was able to respond. I soon learned that during the darkest times there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. God will always pick you up when you fall and will always care no matter what.
When I finally transferred to the college where God wanted me to be, my spirituality strengthened even more. I joined a service club to help develop my passion even more. I go to the weekly student-led worship service called the Gathering. The energy during the Gathering is similar to the energy I remembered from Winterlight, but still different. That is because the Gathering is geared towards college students. The songs sound very different, but I still love. They represent who Christ is and what he has done for us. His love will never fail and he will guide us in the right direction. Christ helps me thrive at college. I pray to him and have faith that I will survive things such as test and finals. When college gets tough, I reach out to him. The Gathering is the place to go when you want to feel close to God and ask him for guidance.
My spiritual journey is why I am the person I am today. I am a caring, compassionate person who wants to give back. I want there to be more love, which will stop this constant cycle of violence in the world. Only love can drive out violence and hate. Kindness also can drive out violence. People need to see that we all are of the same species and no different than anyone else. I want the world to be a better place and the more love we show, the world will be happier. I will still continue my spiritual journey. One of my biggest strengths is the spirituality I have inside of me.