Chapter 4: The Gift of Being Thunderstruck

This Chapter will be the subject of the March 2 meeting in the Buxton Room – 7-8pm.

One of the hallmarks of authentic spiritual experience… is that it continues to repeat itself— like thunder and lightning in a good storm… . Elnes, Eric.
 Think of a thunderstorm.  The rumbling of thunder in the distance.  Dark clouds intensifying.  Sheets of rain.  Bright flash of  lightning.  Sonic boom of thunder.  In Chapter 4, Elnes considers the way thunderstorms have been understood through the course of human history, and various spiritual lessons that can be discerned from them.

Specifically, over the ages, thunder and lightning have often been considered the voice of God – an explanation about the way we come to understand what God is trying to tell us.  Elnes writes, “[w]hen the ancients spoke of the deity flashing lightning and chasing it with claps of thunder, they meant that the voice of the divine often comes through momentary flashes of intuition or awareness that trigger sensations that reverberate within us like rolling thunder.”  This is the gift – God speaks to each of us through flashes of insight, and guides us on our path with a spiritual language resembling a thunderstorm.

What “flashes of insight” have you experienced over the course of your life?  Were you “thunderstruck” when you laid eyes on your soulmate?  When you finally understood your calling?  When you hit rock bottom?

In taking a closer look at the nature of a spiritual experience, Elnes relates them to the kind of joy that can come from food, or other aesthetic experiences.  For instance, the sushi we had the other night was so delicious, I felt it came right from heaven itself!   Or consider the kind of experience that can result from viewing a piece of art, or hearing a piece of music – the aesthetic experience that can stop you in your tracks and offer peace and tranquility as you relish its beauty.  Elnes states, “[a]midst the thousand voices that chatter within you, there is one voice that comes from a place that is perfectly safe, perfectly free from anxiety.”

What kinds of aesthetic (or “liquid joy”) experiences have you had?  How were they similar or different from the sorts of flashes of insight we had been exploring previously?

Elnes takes his readers on a journey describing his own path to ministry.  Several times, Elnes experienced flashes of insight around becoming a pastor, and several times, that message needed to be explained and revisited before the call was fully acted upon.  Elnes can retrace the steps that led him to become a pastor, and appreciates the way truth was revealed through these “thunderstruck” & “sweet spot” moments.  “To this day”, says Elnes, “I continue to pay close attention to whatever thoughts are in my mind at the moment I experience these sweet-spot moments. They act like crumbs in the Dark Wood of life that indicate the direction of my particular path ahead. I have learned that I can trust these moments when they keep returning and pointing in a similar direction.”

Have you had that experience – in retrospect have you seen God has had to hammer you over the head in order to make you understand?  Is there some meaning held within your own moments of “liquid joy”?  How can you act on the message you have been given?



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Posted on

February 12, 2016

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