The three things that I have always been told to not talk about when I initially strike a conversation with a person include religion, money, and politics. It seems as if those subjects do not come up in typical everyday conversation so that everyone involved in the chat remains comfortable and no one feels out of place. I, however, want to go against this idea and talk about religion.
To me, religion is something that I have been around my entire life. Going to a private, religiously affiliated school from kindergarten to twelfth grade has made this subject a very important one in my life. Naturally, it has become a part of a daily routine of mine. The experiences that I have had while in school have allowed me to grow in my faith.
Going off to college was a big adjustment. Not only was I moving away from home and going to a school out of state, I was also in charge of scheduling whatever classes I wanted to take. Of course coming from high school one is used to taking the core subjects to include English, math, science, and history. Well for me, and any other kid who went to a private school, religion is another core class that we have been taking all of our lives. There may be opportunities to take religion courses while in college but it is feels very strange not having it automatically part of my daily class schedule. For as long as I can remember, I started each school day off with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance with my entire school community. And at lunch, we even blessed our food together before we could get up to buy lunch.
After catching up with a friend this past week discussed the true beauty in the environment that we have grown accustomed to. I was able to reflect on the many opportunities that we were fortunate to have while in high school. Having religion class everyday was nice, but going beyond the classroom and being able to experience retreats was an incredible experience. At my school it was a requirement to go on at least one retreat per year. Some of the key themes of the retreats included friendship, service, and fellowship.
Looking back on it, I did not only grow in my faith but also as a person. You do not necessarily have to be a religious person yourself, but if you are open to the idea of a religious experience then going on a retreat will allow you to grow as a person as well. Just the idea of taking a break from everyday life and not doing your usual routine, or even not hanging out with the same people gives one enough time to reflect and think. From my own experiences I was able to bond with people outside of my friend group throughout the retreat and we turned out to be really good friends. I also loved this time to think about my life, how I got to that specific point and what I would like to see myself accomplish in the future.
It seems like going off to college made us realize that it was the little things that made us feel very in touch with our faith. Starting the day off with prayer, saying grace at lunch as a community, going to church services, and attending retreats are a few things that we think we took advantage of while attending our private school. Now that we have gone off to college we are constantly searching for a community that we are able to grow as people will.
Now I know that not every person grew up with religion being a part of their lives, but if you are interested in the idea and are open to opportunities, my advice would be to take advantage of them because it is a very valuable learning experience, whether it be religious or not.