Sep 25, 2007


"Fundamentally, the mystical life is a life lived with and in God, being led and “walking” by the Spirit. God is both the goal of our pilgrimage and our companion on the way. We were created for divine communion. “Birds fly, fish swim, and man prays,” is a patristic dictum. When prayer and the awareness of the presence of God characterize your whole life and define your reason of being, you have become a mystic. Congratulations!" - Abbot Joseph

A mystical life means that the life lived is a mystery – we can’t explain it. This drives Westerners crazy! Surely, we can explain it! Or at least most of it. Theologians take great pleasure in learning all the arguments and viewpoints on a particular topic or issue. They are arguing the case for Christ. They are defending the Gospel. They are explaining the difficult so that others will believe. They are fighting against heresy and confusion. Surely, God would be pleased with this. Have you noticed that as theologians (hopefully, most of them) age, they often become more and more unsure of what is correct. They are more willing to admit that they “just don’t know”. They have lived enough of life to understand that God does things that are beyond explanation or comprehension. They are humbled by His workings in their life and the lives of others. They are more willing to acknowledge mystery. When we are young, we want to figure life out, put things in categories, determine what’s right and wrong. We actually entertain the idea that we have come up with the answer to world hunger, conflict and economic woes, even though brilliant men and women have contemplated these issues since the beginning of time. Such pride and arrogance. Why would we imagine that we have the answers after only 18 years of living on this planet? Namely, our culture doesn't value wisdom that comes with experience and age.

I marvel at the spiritual elders I read about – the monks, nuns, saints, missionaries – who have experienced the presence and workings of God for decades. They are the ones I want to listen to – they are the “experts” in spirituality. They are the trained technicians when it comes to our relationship with God. Hmmm…which would you rather believe? – one who has gone to seminary for four years and can argue any theological position or someone who has wrestled with the powers of darkness, experienced the very presence of God, and sat under the wings of the Almighty? If the world was coming to an end, I would gladly move in with the mystic!

No comments: