Mystics are often thought of as different from the rest of us, having gone beyond daily, earthly experience into some higher realm of experience and understanding of spiritual things. No doubt there are Christian believers who have had very deep experiences of the presence of God and exceptional understanding of spiritual matters, and not all of us can claim to have had such spectacular spiritual experiences. Perhaps we are even a little suspicious of those who report that they have.
But I believe that all Christians have had such experiences to some degree. I came across a question someone posted online: “Was CS Lewis a believing Christian or a mystical Christian?” What an odd question, I thought, as if these two things were alternatives or even opposing one another. Hopefully, we are all “believing” Christians, that is, our faith is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died and rose again to bring about our salvation. This is all laid out in the Scriptures and summarized in the creeds. We believe these things and, beyond merely believing, we trust in their truth.
But how could one believe such things and not, consequently, have some degree of “mystical” experience? We believe in a God who knows and loves us individually and personally. In our prayers, we open ourselves to this God as we offer thanks and seek solace, healing, and deeper understanding. Is that not a mystical undertaking? When we feel inwardly that we are heard and answered as we turn to God, is that not a mystical experience? Mystical because it goes beyond what we can physically sense and intellectually explain. Our faith in God grows and has for us a surety that gives peace and joy, and it cannot be explained in words alone.
No doubt we should seek an ever closer relationship with God and there are many ways to do so. Prayer is the foremost. Not only the prayer of telling God everything that is on our minds, our hopes, anxieties, thanks, and the needs of all those for whom we are concerned but also the meditative kind of prayer where we are seeking to know what is on God’s mind; perhaps taking a portion of scripture and finding what it may mean in the present moment. There is a study where we read the thoughts of our brothers and sisters and find new insights. Music can lift us up to new awareness of love and grace. Quietness before God in nature can make us more conscious of his presence.
These things do not have to culminate in huge explosions and overwhelming and powerful insights but may be more like daily nourishment, bringing moments of peace, rest, and joy which build up our souls by instilling an inner confidence in what we believe and enable us to be witnesses to the real presence of God in our lives. We can all be mystics as we seek to know God’s presence every day.