In Practice: Connections Make for Sacred Moments

 In Voices of Young People

Our newest report, The State of Religion & Young People 2023: Exploring the Sacred, examines how young people view the sacred and what sacred moments look like for them. Our data show that young people’s sacred moments are nuanced and multidimensional, often including a mix of people, places, things, practices, and situations. To hear more about young people’s experience of the sacred, we asked members of our Springtide Ambassadors Program to share a specific ritual or practice they find meaningful and to explain how they engage with that ritual. Below, SAP member Noah tells how the practice of walking his dog has become a meaningful experience.

There are many different activities I have tried to be consistent with—running, journaling, meditating, other things. However, one thing that’s stuck is walking my dog.  

At least once a day, my dog, Phoebe, and I walk for no less than 15 minutes. Yes, I have to walk her, but I am very grateful for this time because it is a time of reflection and when I feel the most connected to her. I take this time to process the day and what happened during it. Whether it was a great day or the worst of my life, I still have to walk Phoebe, which gives me time to deal with my thoughts and emotions. It is a consistency that I find very valuable in my life.  

Yet, I enjoy some of the inconsistencies these walks bring. Phoebe and I never take the same route twice, which is a fun way to explore the neighborhood. Of all the routes we take, winding through our area, the one spot I find myself returning to is a small apple tree. It never ceases to warm my heart how she tugs as we get closer and closer. Phoebe is incredibly consistent with her love of any kind of fruit. She’s always loved fruit. Even when we first got her in April 2020, she would feast upon any fruit she found. Whether the fruit was rotting on the ground or stolen from our kitchen, she devoured it like there was no tomorrow. It honestly is quite a spectacle, her apple-eating, akin to a lion in the Colosseum mauling a gladiator. This energy is and always has been present in her life. She lights up in the sweetest way when she finally gets her treat.  

Originally, she was terrible on walks. Phoebe chewed through five leashes and the same number of collars and harnesses. However, she has realized with age that she should save her palate for more succulent treats like the aforementioned rotting apples. And although she now refrains from eating the leashes and collars, she has not lost her vital spirit. She is rambunctious throughout every walk, which, admittedly, is tiring yet also endearing. She loves every part of her life and everything she does, which is something I continually try to mimic. She has had a huge impact on me and how I see the world, which is so meaningful to me. And while we may be different—her with enough enthusiasm to go to the moon and me with too much self-consciousness to have much of any—we both love each other more than the world itself. That’s why I love our time together and why it’s so important to me. 

Picture of Noah


Springtide Ambassador (14 – Wisconsin)

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