A friend of mine nearly died because of clogged arteries. It was such a miracle and a big relief that the doctors could get him in right away and clear the clogs so that blood could flow normally again to different parts of the body. Arterial clogging can lead to heart attack, stroke and in some cases even death. For this reason, we watch what we eat so that we do not let our arteries collect those plaques that can impede the normal flow of blood. It is in this sense that the dictionary defines the word clog as “anything that impedes motion or action; an encumbrance; a hindrance”.

In spiritual language, clog is a metaphor that speaks of the many ways the flow of life energy, grace of God or love of God is hindered or impeded. Just as the arteries are clogged with excess cholesterol or high deposits of calcium or fats, so are our spiritual arteries clogged by stored anger, grudges, resentments, unforgiveness, thirst for vengeance, envy and other unhealthy spiritual conditions. The clogging of our spiritual arteries leads to many complications in our relationships: with ourselves, with others and with God. The fact that grace and love are not allowed to flow as they should due to anger and resentment and lack of communication, the individual suffers even physically. Sometimes anger feels like a heavy weight on the physical heart, while joy, which results from free flow of grace and love, is hard to be released; something is holding it just like a dam holds a stream from flowing. What you get often is a forced smile or laughter but it has no grace and does not renew the body or the soul!

This situation definitely affects our relationship with others: it affects the free flow of communication among the persons involved. Communication is stalled as the relationship becomes more and more superficial and gradually wanes, for the energy that fuels the motivation to relate with others has lost some portion of its strength. This is how family dynamics start off and end up with some not talking to others, husband and wife taking distance from each other, and friends gradually lose touch with their friends. Most importantly, the clogging of spiritual arteries gives rise to so much negative energy in relationships: then persons begin to suspect and mistrust each other, misinterpret words and statements, take seriously simple jokes, read intention in unintentional human errors, and, before you know it, everyone is on defense of themselves. Once a relationship has reached the point where defense of oneself takes over, then life is snuffed out of that relationship for to be vulnerable is a significant aspect of relating and self-defensive mode pits itself against vulnerability!

But it affects our relationship with God, for God is love and love builds communion. There can be no communion without communication, and there can be no communication without freedom, and freedom is compromised by clogged spiritual arteries. It makes it hard to communicate with oneself, with others and with God. This is why God always asks us to continue to learn to forgive others because that is the only way to clear the clogged spiritual arteries. Forgiveness unclogs our spiritual hearts, and sets us free to relate with ourselves, with others and with God. Now, this does not mean there can be no conflicts; rather, it means that conflicts and misunderstandings should be faced and addressed. But it means also that we should be willing to give forgiveness a chance. Unwillingness to forgive isolates a person even in eternity (Mt. 18:21-35). I am sure no one wants that for oneself or for anyone.

How are your spiritual arteries clogged? How does it affect your relationship with yourself, your family members, friends, community and your church family? I pray for the grace of God to assist all of us in clearing the clogs in our spiritual arteries. Now is the time to make room for that grace of God. Amen