I’m a Christian mystic.
I have a query for you: does that statement bother you? It bothered me. A year ago I would never have proclaimed or even thought about being a mystic. In fact, when I read the words “Christian mystic” in a book last summer, I immediately felt uncomfortable and a bit hostile toward the author and his message. In that moment I found myself wading through years of religious fundamentalism that I didn’t even realize I had been holding onto.
That launched me into a time of research and prayer. My first goal was to understand the word “mystic” and then to understand why it bothered me so. What I discovered was a well of fear that had been instilled in me as a child. My parents and grandparents experience in a religion that was very rigid in its beliefs and practices, left them stymied in their faith and relationship with God. They passed that onto us kids. In the words of the Church Lady, “well, isn’t that special.”
What I’m discovering within myself is a need to examine my own rigid religiosity and see if I can find some healing. This quote from Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich’s book The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith has been a good reminder of this need:
A point comes on the spiritual journey, however, when a healing of one’s early religious experience must occur in order for wholeness to be realized. This healing requires a transformation of the person and of the traditional religious images, symbols, and words. Such transformation allows for a new way to experience these traditions and, therefore, a whole new appreciation of spirituality. It’s coming full circle to wholeness.
“God created us for a relationship with him and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God.”
— St. Augustine, a Christian mystic