"The Shack" by Wm Paul Young, has sold more than 19 million copies, and now you can see the movie. Why is this story about a spiritual journey so appealing?
As some of you know, "The Shack" is a fictionalized account of a middle-aged man (Mack) who is filled with hurt, suffering, and trauma. He then has a mind-blowing encounter with unspeakable, horrifying evil. He finds a spiritual path to healing at the scene of a run-down shack in the wilderness of Oregon, where his young daughter, Missy was taken and murdered by a serial killer.
On another level, this book might be a metaphor about all the prior history of emotional pain, suffering, rejections, depressions, abuse, and failures many of us hold on to in our own private or internal shack. The author gives us a hopeful message: no matter what painful wounds that can scar our heart, we can heal through the power of Divine Revelation. Maybe that is the key and main attraction of this story for countless fans and readers all over the world.
I am curious to find out what helps you heal or overcome some of the traumatic experiences that this life apparently presents to all of us. For me, I agree with many of the spiritual ideas presented in "The Shack". Let me review some of them briefly:
#1. Mack received a written invitation from God (called Papa in the book) to meet-up at the shack. I believe the Divine does talk to us, if we listen to the "small, still voice" within us. It's been said, however, that "many are called but few answer". What holds us back?
#2. In the book, God or Papa is revealed to Mack as a Trinity: a nurturing African-American woman, a mysterious, ephemeral Asian woman representing the Holy Spirit known as the Wind, and a younger, mid-eastern carpenter - Jesus - who appears somewhat physically unattractive to Mack. For me, I feel God can take many forms. We just need to have an open mind and heart to all possibilities.
#3. Mack begins to have conversations and special times with all three forms of God (Father/Mother, Holy Spirit, Son/Jesus), which helps him cultivate a deeper, more loving and personal relationship with God. The healing begins for Mack as the Love blossoms, unfolds, and permeates his whole being. Maybe this process, or spiritual journey as one might call it, could be the central key to all forms of healing?
#4. Evil in the book is explained as an absence of good. Further elaboration of this point suggests that when people feel separated or independent from God, this can open the door to harmful actions without accountability. So, to have a healthier more fulfilling life, we need to surrender our ego or free will to Spirit.
#5. Last but not least, Mack had a lot of forgiveness work to do in the story. Through Love and Unconditional Acceptance from the three forms of Spirit, he was able to forgive God for not intervening to save his daughter. He goes on to forgive himself for his own negative actions, his abusive and alcoholic father, and finally even the person who murdered his daughter.
Wow! Is this type of forgiveness really possible? I have had to do a lot of forgiveness work in my life. What about you?
In summary: There are many pathways to healing. Just like there are many names for God and Truth. In my humble opinion, healing is all about developing a nurturing and heartfelt, personal relationship with the Divine. If that also makes sense to you, what can start or strengthen us on our own journey to God?
Feel free to share your comments. My wife Susan and I have written extensively about a variety of spiritual pathways that can help us surrender our own shack, and actually feel the Infinite Presence. We all deserve a better life today. Together, maybe we can even create a healthier, more caring world.
One last thought: what if you consider yourself to be an atheist or agnostic? Surely one can find meaning in the power of beauty present in Nature; or sense the positive impact of love and charity when expressed towards others in need; or reflect peacefully on the mystery and wonder (according to Quantum Physics) that we are all connected via a universal field of energy. Good does exist. What might change in this life if all of us tried a little harder to put Love-in-Action today? Could it be time to transform all those personal shacks into the City of Light on the hill?
Let's discuss it.
(Check out our spiritual blog for more Reflections in Spirit at the link below.)