A Tale of Two Spiritual Emergencies

This is an article you all may find of use on spiritual emergencies.  http://www.spiritualcompetency.com/jhpseart.html
The high points are
  • a list of types of spiritual emergencies, like loss of faith, loss of a teacher, need for growth, mystical experiences, etc.
  • the difference between psychoss and spritual emergencies: being coherent and willing to talk about the experience, sudden onset, and stressors beforehand
  • the difference between regular spiritual growth and spiritual emergencies – the second interferes with daily functionin

Corinna West and I have each gone through different kinds of spiritual emergencies this past fall and winter.  Corinna called hers a spiritual emergency because she remained coherent, and posted blogs about it the entire time.  She always viewed it as an opportunity for spiritual growth.  “What does the Creator want me to do?” she asked many people, many times.  She was sure she’d find the answer in her “spiritual emergency,” as she called it.

Do Spiritual Emergencies Contain Spiritual Truth?

Corinna is 25 years younger than I am, a difference that has given each of us added insight over the years.

I was diagnosed with a fatal disease this winter, ALS, often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  When Gehrig got it, in 1939, he had been a great, beloved baseball hero for 15 years.  ALS forced him to end an unprecedented streak of 2,130 games without missing an inning.  ALS was even more unknown than it is today. Nobody could remember, or even spell, its proper name, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), so they called it Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

So far, I’ve posted 3 blogs about my experience.   That would cause spiritual emergencies for many people:  If God is good and all-powerful, why did I get ALS?  Why is there  so much evil of all kinds in the world, and why is it spread around so unfairly, to so many people who don’t deserve it?  All major religions offer different answers to that question, and so have gazillion philosophers and theologians from ancient times to today.

The Bible deals with it in the Book of Job, saying it was God testing the good man’s faith.  In the 20th Century, poet Robert Frost extended the Job story in his play “A Masque of Reason.”  Job, his wfe, God and the devil discuss Job’s life of suffering.

Job asks the Creator why he suffered so much torture he did not deserve.  After trying to duck Job’s question, Frost’s God admits he did it to impress the Devil, to show there was one man who could keep his faith, and not curse God, no matter what. An answer we would not expect from God, but might expect from the relentlessly unsentimental Frost, who also wrote “Home is the place where,when you have to go there. they have to take you in.”  (“Death of the Hired Man”.)

The question of evil has not been a problem for me so far.

WHAT’S SO EVIL ABOUT SOMEONE DYING?  EVERYBODY DOES IT?  AND WHEN I WAS 28, MY CHANCES OF BEING 30 WERE LESS THAN 50%.  EVERY DAY SINCE 1976 HAS BEEN A GIFT FROM GOD.  i’M GRATEFUL, NOT BITTER.

I haven’t thought about God much since those starving and suffering, homeless psychotic days.  Before that, I thought about God a lot.  I saw the Creator in a vision when I was 19, so I know there is one.  In my 20’s, the Creator led me through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  I survived betrayal  by religious leaders I was brought up to admire, loss of my savings, house,and marriage, two years driving a cab in New York City,and two life-threatening illnesses, including mental illness, suicidal sieges, and malpractice by world-famous psychiatrists.

That was a spiritual emergency.  I learned liberals, who talk so much about social injustice,  can treat working people like objects ; conservatives who advocate hard hearted public policy can treat a lowly cabdriver with dignity and respect; and the public is more ougoing under a full moon than under a new moon.

Since then, I keep reminding myself that I passed 30 many years ago, despite the odds.  I’m almost 65 now, grateful, not bitter.  My chance of being 70 is better than 50-50.  That’s no spiritual emergency.

I’m still here — sane, liked, respected, and wise.  God is the only explanation for my high-quality survival.  I’ve had a full, interesting life, in interesting times, and I’m still enjoying it.  What’s the big deal about dying?

People who love me are more upset than I am.  They’re thinking about how unfair it is, and how they’ll miss me.  I’m just glad they care, and sorry they are sad on my account.

Have you had spiritual emergencies?  Did you learn anything?

Wordworks Blog Author: Ken Braiterman

Ken Braiterman, Wellness Wordworks board chair, has been an activist, news reporter, opinion writer, and columnist since 1968. From 1997 to 2009, he was New Hampshire's leading advocate for recovery-based mental health services. He is an advanced Wellness and Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) facilitator.

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