, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

CT ct-prj-christian-wiman06.jpg

“That conversions often happen after or during intense life experiences, especially traumatic experiences, is sometimes used as evidence against them. The sufferer isn’t in his right mind. The mind, tottering at the abyss of despair or death, shudders back toward any simplicity, any coherency it can grasp, and the man calls out to God. Never mind that the God who comes at such moments may not be simple at all, but arises out of and includes the very abyss the man would flee. Never mind that in traumatic experience many people lose their faith — or what looked like faith? — rather than find it. It is the flinch from life — which, the healthy are always quick to remind us, includes death — and the flight to God that cannot be trusted.

But how could it be otherwise? It takes a real jolt to get us to change our jobs, our relationships, our daily coffee consumption, for goodness sake — or, if we are wired that way, to change our addiction to change. How much more urgency is needed, how much more primal fear, to startle the heart out of its ruts and ruins. It’s true that God comes to the prophet Elijah not in the whirlwind, and not in the earthquake, and not in the fire that follows, but in the ‘still, small voice’ that these ravages make plain. But the very wording of that passage makes it clear that the voice, though finally more powerful than the ravages it follows, is not altogether apart from them. That voice is always there, and for everyone. For some of us, unfortunately, it takes terror and pain to make us capable of hearing it.”


Christian Wiman, writing in his superb and rightly praised essay “Mortify Our Wolves”.