My time inside Memorial Church
Last December I had the pleasure to meet the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, as well as the insides of Stanford’s Memorial Church.
I have been an atheist since I was 10, and have been out of the closet as such since I was 12. I have never regarded myself as a spiritual person in any dimension, although I do spare a thought or two about things happening for a reason, but that’s the longest I’ll reach into the spiritual and essentialist realms.
Despite this, when I visited the Stanford Memorial Church last December, something very weird happened. I went inside, as clear mandatory visit requirement of the campus. Once inside, I was looking around, at the undoubtedly beautiful ceiling, the wooden benches, the ornamented walls. I kept walking, and I looked at the altar, and the dome, as I was right below it. I tried to took it all in at once, as looking at the individual details seemed overwhelming.
I spent around 10 seconds simply looking up, and had to go back and take a seat. When I did, I looked at the floor and to the back, to find my friends, who were just getting inside. I looked back in front of me, and closed my eyes.
Around 18 minutes passed and I stood up, took the notebook I had been carrying, and left without looking back at the ceiling, the altar, the benches, or anything else.
Once outside, I stopped to see the long arched corridor, and I noticed the plaques of the different classes of Stanford, extending all throughout the floor.
I kept walking and reunited to my group. They didn’t ask nor said anything, until 10 minutes in when someone made mention of my “conversation with God” inside the curch.
I still can’t explain nor understand what happened. I became incredibly contemplative, and went into a sort of auto-pilot mode. Perhaps it was the beauty, or the strong symbolism that both Stanford and God have had throughout my life. Maybe it was that I was doing intermittent fasting, and had walked all day without rest until that point. Maybe something deep inside me did happen.
As with everything, my current stance is that it was a mix of all of the above, and my materialistic view of the world is still unchallenged, but what I can materialistically and imperatively say is that inside, and for a long time once outside, I felt a peace and clarity that I had and have very seldom felt since, if at all.