Something missing in my heart tonight
Has made my eyes so soft,
My voice so tender
My need for God absolutely clear. (Hafiz)
Can you recall a time when you knew you needed God, and nobody else, nothing else, could fill that need? These are the words of Hafiz, a Mystic, describing the heart of every mystic.
How do you respond to this need? Do you push it back and try to ignore it, or do you spend some time trying to connect with the one who can fill that need? Do you try and clear space in your busy inner world and invite God to fill that need?
If you make the time to connect with God, you are a mystic. I define mystics as all who seek a deeper connection with God and live into that deeper connection. The church recognizes some people as mystics, for example, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich. Many others have not been officially identified as Mystics, just as the church recognizes some people as Saints. The number of saints is not limited to those formally recognized by the church. The Apostles Creed refers to the Communion of Saints: a large number.
We can read the stories about Mystics, Theologians, and others in two ways. We can read to learn the details of their lives and to gain knowledge about their teaching. We become scholars. Or we can read their stories with the eyes of our hearts – asking: “What is God wanting me to hear, to see, to feel, through what I am reading?” As we ponder what God is saying to us, we are mystics.
As each person is unique, the way the Creator reaches out to us is unique.
Through stories and writings of mystics, we can learn how God reached out to them and some of the ways God reaches us. The Creator may touch us through nature, the sound and touch of the wind, a sunrise or sunset, the changing patterns in the clouds, the arts (painting, photography, music, dance, sculpture (perhaps a sand castle on a beach), or as we walk and take time to observe, and listen. Meditation, Centering Prayer, can help quieten the noises within us and make it easier to hear the whispers of the Spirit. The Creator touches us through reading and pondering Holy scripture. Many find keeping a journal helps them focus on what they are feeling, sensing, and questioning. Many find it helpful to be accountable to another person or a group. Sharing your journey alongside God with the group and listening to their journeys helps us be more aware of God. Sharing with someone else, we are encouraged to trust God, even when answers and God feels very far away.
We are all invited to be mystics: to spend time with our God and be open to whatever gift is waiting for us to receive.