Transcendent Visions and Deep Healing | Sojourners

Transcendent Visions and Deep Healing

How do we tell if a spiritual experience is real?
The illustration depicts Rev. Richard Joyner, who is a Black man wearing a blue shirt, holding vegetables with an abundant garden in the background. The quote reads "Gardens Teach Freedom"
Rev. Richard Joyner is pastor of Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in North Carolina and founder of the Conetoe Family Life Center, a 25-acre community garden and nonprofit. / Illustration by Hazel P. Mason 

ENGLISH MYSTIC JULIAN of Norwich had a busy 24 hours on May 13, 1373, during which she experienced a series of vivid and visceral visions. At a time when the church preached that suffering was God’s punishment on sinful people, Julian interrogated the crucified Christ: “Lord, how can all be well when great harm has come, by sin, to your creatures?” Jesus replies to her, “I am able to make all things well and I shall make all things well.” In this issue, reviewer Ezra Craker and columnist Sarah James draw on Julian’s wisdom for our own time.

Reports of transcendent visions and spiritual experiences have also been noted by researchers who are studying treatments using psilocybin and other organic or synthetic psychedelics. It’s such a pronounced feature that some scientists have invited religious professionals into their research studies, as reporter Bekah McNeel writes in our cover story. This year the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research is expected to release the results of a multiyear study into what happens when clergy take psychedelics. McNeel’s piece explores questions that people of faith may be asking in light of this research. Whatever the study results may be, Julian reminds us that God always seeks to love us and nurture our deepest healing.

The image shows the cover of Sojourners' May 2024 issue, which depicts a priest with mushrooms growing out of their head
This appears in the May 2024 issue of Sojourners
for more info