“M” is for mystery and for mystic

“The more I listened, the more I recognized within myself a deep hunger to be more aware of the Mystery all around me.”

I don’t know why it is that when I attempt to meditate, my mind resorts to Dr. Seuss. It has been more than 30 years since I was first read Dr. Seuss’s ABCs to our son, but it is still stuck deep in the crevasses of my neural folds.

Big “A” little “a”, what begins with “A”? Aunt Annie’s alligator “A”, “A”, “A.”

Big “B” little “b” what begins with “B”?  Barber, baby, bubbles, and a bumble bee.

Honest. I didn’t even need to look it up. (And now I have a grand-daughter.  Lord help me!)

So, when my mind was wondering as it is so prone to do, it landed on “M” and I immediately thought of two words: mystery and mystic.

I sometimes think meditation mind wandering is a little like the stuff of dreams: a mix of images from long ago and this week!

A friend gave me a CD for Christmas:  The Will to Live and Other Mysteries by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen

In her wonderful wisdom and gentle, steady voice, Dr. Remen speaks of Mystery with a capital “M”.  As she says,

”We will all encounter more Mystery in our lives than we will see.”

The more I listened, the more I recognized within myself a deep hunger to be more aware of the Mystery all around me.

I am beginning to believe that only these encounters with Mystery can sustain me on this journey with pain. One of the biggest losses for me has been the way that pain narrows my vision.  Recently, I have completely missed the birthdays of four good friends (so sorry Mary and Sherry, Carol, and Katharine). On some days, the only thing that breaks through are the smiles of my grand-daughter Georgia, the generous kindness of my husband, and the steady small inquiries of friends who ask, “How is it today?”

Yet there is something about meeting Mystery that allows me to feel the largeness of life once more.

One of the things I loved the most about hospital chaplaincy was the nearness of Mystery.

God is near to the broken-hearted.

God is very present in times of trouble.

I also come near to the Mystery when I wander gardens and waterways with my camera.

In spiritual direction, very often, Mystery comes near.

Also as I read Scripture, especially the stories of women like Anna , an amazing woman of intuition, faithfulness, and voice.  She is a model for those of us, especially women, who happen to be mystics.

Which leads me to the second “m” word I encountered this week: mystic.   A friend mentioned in casual conversation that another friend had referenced me as a mystic. Though I have internally referenced myself in that way, I’ve seldom done so publicly.  I think it tends to conjure up (pun intended) spooky notions that don’t feel like they fit at all.

Reminded once again this week of how deep my hunger for Mystery runs, the label of mystic seems to fit.

One particular aspect of Dr. Remen’s talk was particularly intriguing to me.  It was a spiritual practice (my words, not hers) that was designed to help develop eyes to see more of the Mystery in which we all live.

Her recommendation: journal at the end of the day and answer 3 simple questions in 15 minutes or less:

What surprised you?

What touched or moved you?

What inspired you?

Apparently, these questions were constructed through the work of a sociologist or maybe an anthropologist… someone who might study such things…

For me, today, these were my recollections:

  • Surprised by the simple pleasure of a hot shower.
  • Touched by the fear of a friend who is entering counseling for the first time.
  •  Inspired by the generosity of another friend who offered to take off work and pay for my first visit to a new pain specialist who has helped her.

 The practice made me think of the eight (yes 8) blank (yes blank) journals of various shapes and sizes, all given to me over the last year.  Cleaning up recently, I gathered them from the various corners of my bedroom and office and put them at my bedside.  I was curious about both their number and blankness.  Interestingly those observations feel more like an invitation now.

I’m starting with the one on top tonight.

Maybe you’d like to join me and post some of your discoveries here.