Crawling in from work exhausted and tired, my soul is hungry. I am ready for a break, for an escape, for relief, but also for something more, something deeper which these words cannot adequately express.
My soul is craving ecstasy.
In ecstasy, I am fully alive and connected with every living thing. All too often I burden myself with tasks and responsibilities that I forget this part of me, though maybe deny and repress are more accurate terms.
I am thankful for the author of the book Ecstasy, Robert Johnson, for helping me name my desire and need.
He shares how in our modern society the word “ecstasy” is poorly understood. Often our thoughts go to illicit drugs, X-rated movies, raves and hippie music festivals.
However, to the ancient Greeks, the term meant to simply stand outside oneself, to be filled with an emotion too powerful for the body to contain or the mind to understand.
To experience ecstasy is to step for a moment outside of our daily lives and be transported to another realm of joy and delight.
A simple example is feeling ecstatic when I get off work at 5:00 on Friday and anticipate the coming weekend. Sadly, this may be as good as it gets for many.
I agree with Robert Johnson (from Ecstasy):
I am sorry to say that we rarely stand outside ourselves these days. The world is too much with us. We are constantly working, thinking, planning, doing – what to eat, where to go, how to support our families, who to vote for. All the responsibility and power we burden ourselves with! We can’t bear it for very long without breaking down in some way. We need some relief from all that strength; to be for a moment in that timeless, spaceless, primal place which has no responsibility, which isn’t going anywhere. We need to stand outside ourselves and experience the flow of life.
To stand outside of myself and experience the flow of life. Yes! This is what my soul is craving.
The Psalmist reminds us that the fullness of joy and pleasure is found in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). Ultimately, He is the ecstasy I desire.
Knowing this, I’m not as tempted to attach my desires to lesser things: binging on Netflix, searching for images on the Internet, or getting lost in the world of social media. Here, my story is similar to many of my clients: When ecstasy is not expressed in the light it is perverted in the dark.
Still, it is not enough for me to merely know of my need for true and Divine ecstasy. Knowing is not the same as experiencing. And this is the biggest challenge for me. Feeding my mind is not the same as feeing my soul, and it’s my soul that’s hungry.
I’m on a journey to discover and be open to more ecstatic experiences in my life. Maybe this journey will be helpful for you as well. I am sure I’m not alone in my desire to stand outside of myself and experience more joy and delight in life.
What does ecstasy mean for you? Where do you experience it the most (e.g., play, sexual expressions, dance, worship, music, etc.)? How does ecstasy add positive energy to your life? How can you be more intentional in your pursuit of joy and channeling this flow of energy?