30.40 Real Religious Moments




The 77% Weekly

The 40/52-weeks-a-year, spiritual-religious newsletter

From Rabbi Brian 30/40

Real Religious Moments

Last week (issue 29/40), my friend Sparky wrote about Marcus Borg’s notion of “thin spaces” – those magical moments when we feel connected to the holy.

This week, I want to explicitly encourage you to contemplate your thin spaces – your real religious moments.

I’m not talking specifically about a moment in nature, at a shrine, or anything like that – but rather, events that made indelible impressions on you spiritually. Moments when time stood still, when you were in that thin place between the ordinary and the divine, when you knew you were a part of something greater, holier.

I’ll give you an example from my own life.

One of the most profoundly religious moments of my existence was when my son needed stitches. He had hurt himself badly at the playground and was taken to the emergency room.

Understandably, he flipped out when the doctors mended the tender cut near his eye. They used wipes, syringes, and needles to clear away the wound.

Emmett thrashed so wildly on the emergency room table, I had to hold him down.


(This isn’t exactly true. The technicians offered to hold Emmett down. But, I couldn’t let my boy stare with panicked eyes into those of a stranger.  I needed to be the one.)

I physically restrained him with all the strength in my upper body as the doctors performed their medical work.

Emmett looked at me, screaming in terror. He was beyond delirious. I could do nothing but hold him down and look back at his sobbing eyes.

That was one of the most religious moments of my life!

(Just writing about it now, I feel myself taken back to that touch of holiness I encountered. There is something inexplicable about it.)

Another religious moment occurred for me while I was listening to a woman talk about her past. She was in unbelievable pain as the words came out – her distress evident in all parts of her body. Being there, being a witness to her pain, watching her dealing with it right in front of me, was a truly religious moment for me.

How about you? Where have you experienced deeply profound moments in your life, where you witnessed something holier?

It’s always challenging to talk about these kinds of things with words. To describe something unlimited, like a religious experience, with the medium of language, feels like trying to taste the sweetness of a peach based on a mere photograph of the fruit.

Real religious moments don’t always come when we’re doing what we think we should be doing. They just happen.

Jason Siff, a meditation instructor, defines meditation as what happens when you are meditating. I would like you to think of religious experiences similarly – that they are simply those things you define as “religious experiences.” After all, you are the foremost authority on what a religious experience is for you.

This brings me back to the mission of Religion-Outside-The-Box – to empower you in your spiritual-religious life.

Spiritual-religious advice: Contemplate your religious moments.



With love,

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian

Rabbi Brian
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer is the founder of Religion-Outside-The-Box.

Shortly after he was ordained as a rabbi, he left mainstream congregational life to encourage people to find and be with (the) God (of their understanding).
His day job is teaching advanced mathematics to Los Angeleno High School students. The rest of the time is with his family.

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