Sometimes we rouse from sleep slowly, grab a cup of coffee and nurse it quietly on a cool spring morning as the sun warms our skin. Other times, we jump out of bed and dash at the day, waking at full speed. Spiritual awakenings are no different. They can come as a gradual unfolding of light and understanding, or they can feel like a jolting breakthrough that disrupts everything.
I love the gentle percolation of the slow awakening. Years might go by gently on a soft plateau – a pastoral spirituality. I also love the thrill of getting rocketed from slumber.
There is a third way. Instead of a progression or journey from sleep to wakefulness, we might experience a different form of waking, where suddenly everything changes in the blink of an eye. There is no sensation of travel. It’s like a light gets switched on suddenly. Darkness goes away in an instant.
We travel a great distance from the old world to a fresh new world with no sense of movement. This has happened a few times in my life.
One day the world has a particular texture with specific challenges and pressures. The next day, the very nature of reality has shifted. The old physics no longer apply. We have become a new creature. We have to learn how to walk again, learn how to be in relationships again We have to discover who our friends are and who our family members are.
This sudden change is not isolating. I’ve found myself quickly surrounded by new friends or old friends who are now different, glowing in new light. Family members once distant are suddenly close. The world becomes warm and welcoming where it was once full of tension and difficulties.
I don’t know whether I changed or the world changed. But it was clear there was no going back, and the world had taken on a bright sheen that glowed down below the surface of everything.