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Collective Effervescence

I remember the first time felt like Dorothy pulling back the curtain in The Wizard of Oz.

One of the things I loved the most about church and my experiential faith was feeling what I would have once called the presence of God. Light and cathartic, releasing, freeing, life-affirming. Usually during worship and singing but also at other times when I felt connected to people in tender ways.

When I started to wonder if I could hold on to my very certain and secure worldview, my sure and much loved framework for how the ways things are, I became anxious and felt ashamed of my naivete. I must have made it all up, been swept up in the repetitive beats of the emotive songs.

There’s a term for the way we feel in groups when we sing and celebrate together. Studies of “collective effervescence” show it’s good for our sense of connection and belonging. It makes sense that we’d feel it in church.

The thing is, I’ve felt it in other places too and many times since the huge shift in my belief system. I’ve experienced it at yoga in Bali, during meditation, at a U2 concert, at the beach during sunrise, with people I love.

I wasn’t naïve, I was experiencing connection, I was tuned in, open to being part of something bigger than me.

We don’t have to close ourselves off to what we may have once called the presence of God. It’s a source of great comfort to me knowing it’s there whenever I need it.

If you’d like to unpack things you’ve tried to find language for like this, I’ll soon be starting a group for people wanting to do just that. It’ll be co-led with Sam from Anchored Counselling, and It’s called Reformation. It’ll be a monthly group for navigating religious trauma, leaving church, disillusionment with faith. If you find yourself wondering what to do when you find yourself like Dorothy, confused by what she could now see. You can click here to register your interest.

You can find freedom and find new ways of being in the world.

Go gently.

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