Ruminating on M+M's recent post, "Where did you get your faith from?" I contributed part of my story. You can find it in the comments of her post, but the section of relevance to my post follows (I've altered it slighly so that it makes sense reading it as a "stand alone"):
"My reengagement with my faith following my teenage years came through involvement in a charismatic non-denominational group. I stayed involved with that group for a long period of my life and still look back on it as the time of my life where I really grew up from a boy to a man. It was in those years that I married, had children, consolidated my career pathway, and formed adult opinions and beliefs of my faith outside the family nucleus I grew up with. I regularly fellowshipped with a wide cross section of people – successful businesspeople, "strugglers", those with various ailments and others with exceptional giftings…my eyes were really opened to a wide cross section of society beyond la familia that I had grown up with. It was not perfect, and there were reasons why I eventually left it, but it did have a profound impact in shaping me as a person."
My experience of involvement in the charismatic renewal was absolutely foundational in forming my adult faith beliefs. It gave me a faith direction of my own as opposed to the cultural faith which so many of our young people inherit from their families, but then discard as adult life approaches. I found a deep intimacy in my relationship with the Lord through the charismatic renewal, and while I know some are dismissive of the hands-in-the-air stuff, I know what I experienced in terms of personal healing and spiritual growth, and would never question the authenticity of that period of my life.
It wasn't all hands in the air, laying hands on others. Foundationally (in my experience) it was about commitment, community, relationships. Some of the guys I fellowshipped with over many years would never ever raise their hands in worship. They simply found it too uncomfortable. They were there for other reasons that met a need in their life.
I'm no longer involved; eventually I got to a point of unease that this group rather than my parish was my primary faith input. There were also the usual personality slights and tensions that you get in any group which I eventually needed space from. You get that when you commit so closely to other people. A change of towns for work meant that contact with the movement was less practical and I had to find other avenues of faith expression.
It's interesting that within Catholic circles, the charismatic movement is seen as fringe or not authentic. It seems to be an area of church life with tacit approval, tolerated perhaps, but not part of the mainstream. I wonder why many on one hand find church "boring" yet dismiss charismatic movements as "wacky", when in my experience it is lifegiving and,well the clues in the name really, "charismatic".
When you think of the Charismatic renewal movement, what comes to mind for you?