Who exactly is a mystic? Simply someone who is able to surrender to God and to believe in realities beyond human comprehension. There is an analogy that a mystic is like bubbles on waves. Every so often one of the bubbles decides to go deep into the water and that's who a mystic is. Last weekend, I was at Lake Dallas and took a photo of the waves lapping on the shore because they reminded me of this image.
Sometimes we experience the thin places or dive, like the bubble, deeper into the ocean of God's Love during prayer. It can happen listening to music or at Eucharist. Something like a beautiful sunset or rainbow can bring us close to God.
Oddly, we can find a 'thin place' when we least FEEL that God is present! When we surrender our score-keeping of how 'holy' we are and just let God be God and then we can be assured that God is using us.
It has been said that life is a school where we learn to love. Diving into God's vast love is a way of learning the lesson of love. Mystics have looked at this 'going deeper' in different ways. Claire of Assisi (12th Century) said:
Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance!
And transform your whole being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation!
So that you too may feel what His friends feel as they taste the hidden sweetness which God Himself has reserved from the beginning for those who love Him.
Catherine of Sienna (14th century) says it differently:
O immeasurably tender love! Who would not be set afire with such love? What heart could keep from breaking? You, deep well of charity, it seems you are so madly in love with Your creatures that you could not live without us! Yet You are our God, and have no need of us. Your greatness is no greater for our well-being, nor are you harmed by any harm that comes to us, for You are supreme eternal Goodness. What could move You to such mercy? Neither duty nor any need You have of us (we are sinful and wicked debtors!)- but only love!
Just recently, I was listening to a CD I hadn’t heard for a while. The song “Stonesand Sea” byIn the beginning,
Bridge that seems to capture how a mystic sees the world and God. Eden
I was counting the stones on the seashore,
Looking for the precious ones.
Among the stones, I found many pretty things
While the sea rolled on beside me all the time.
Time moved on.
I had collected many stones 'til I tired of them,
And I think they tired of me.
Some were lovely, but I was never satisfied,
And the sea rolled on beside me all the time.
And the wind rose, east and cold.
Whisp'ring sweetly to my soul.
And it said "Look you fool,
You are missing precious things:
Raise your eyes and look towards the sea."
So I looked:
It was as if I saw the sea for the first time,
And it's power captured me.
All the time I had wasted seeking stones,
I had missed the rolling glory of the sea.
And the sea
Devoured a mighty swathe of heart, overwhelmed me
In a way I couldn't know,
And the price for the love of greater things.
Most of the time we stay on the shore and leave tracks, but sometimes, we try out the feeling of diving deeper. Then we are a mystic, just like Claire and Catherine and hundreds of other women throughout church history. Have you ever let yourself be the bubble that sinks deep into the love of God? Have you looked toward the Sea?