Whatever else a religion does, whatever else it is, culturally, historically, dogmatically, it is for many most essentially this.
One reason I return to conversion stories is to hear about that moment. To remind myself of how that happens and how the faithful, the moved, are so moved.
From Rod Dreher, one such conversion story:
It was in the midst of that crowd, in the midst of the terror, the death, the destruction, that I heard, not in the way you would hear a voice, but inside my head, 'My love is all that matters. And this is who I am.'Do read the whole thing.
I've had God in my head before, twice during times of solitary prayer in masjids, and it is terrifying, overwhelming, engulfing.
I almost never say this publicly, because there are so few people I share this story with. I feel grateful that I was there, at the WTC on that day. I lived in a world where I could have flown an airplane into a tall building and called it righteousness. I was that angry. And there I was, in the midst of someone else’s violent vengeance fantasy, being forced to look hard into the very face of the kinds of things I used the believe ...
It is no small thing to hear, and to say, in a violent and brutal world, in a world where many easily use others for pleasure and profit, 'God is love.'