We are all mystics. There is a mystic in everyone and there is a mystic in you. We are all touched by God, whose amazing grace guides our steps even when we are unaware of it. Regardless of our personal history, and even our negative experiences and actions, God’s loving providence brings us home even when we’ve lost our way. One of my favorite Anne Tyler books is Saint Maybe. This same description could describe the judgments we have of many spiritual pilgrims – “mystic maybe.” That is the heart of my book, “The Mystic in You: Discovering a God-filled World,” Upper Room Books.)
Many people have stereotypes of saints and mystics. They perceive saints and mystics as pure as the driven snow, immune to lust and anger, weak-kneed and meek, and unconcerned with the scrum of political decision-making. Their eyes always on heaven, even when they’re making love. Woops! Mystics don’t make love or have babies! Or, can we, in the spirit of Song of Songs, experience God precisely those often spiritually-underestimated moments of pleasure and celebration.
Mysticism is multifaceted and breaks down all our stereotypes. If God can take birth in a manger, the child of working class parents, living under the yoke of servitude, God can take birth anywhere. God can take birth in you! The church father Iranaeus once asserted that the glory of God is a fully alive human! A Jewish mystic asserted that when the Messiah comes, he won’t ask if you were David, the Messiah will ask, did you fulfill your personal destiny as God’s image in human form. A mystic is someone who embodies the Spirit in the maelstrom of life. Mystics may be priests and pastors, but they are just as likely to be social workers and school teachers. Spiritual guidance may come from a monk; it may also come from a truck driver.
Spiritual wisdom may come from a librarian, it may also come from a person recovering from addiction or a retired sex worker. God’s vision embraces all of us, regardless of sexual expression, race, ethnicity, gender, or economics – and sometimes we know ourselves to be God’s beloved and discover that the world is filled with the glory of God. God comes to us just as we are in all of our wondrous imperfection. Mystics are not perfect or immune from passion or sensuality, but seek to bring the whole of their experience to God, seeking God’s healing touch and loving guidance.
You are a mystic, even if you don’t know it now! God is whispering in your ear, quietly guiding your steps, and shaping your life (mostly unconsciously) in ways you can’t currently imagine or discern.
God may touch you dramatically, with little or know warning. Or, with your next step, you may begin to say “yes” to a pathway of spiritual transformation. Take a moment today to ask for the grace to know that you are a mystic and to discover right here and now – in this holy here and now – the presence of God as your companion and guide. You are a mystic!
Bruce Epperly is Pastor, South Congregational Church, UCC, in Centerville, MA, and a professor in the D.Min. program at Wesley Theological Seminary. He is author of over forty five books, including “The Gospel According to Winnie the Pooh,” “The Mystic in You: Discovering a God Filled World,” “Becoming Fire: Spiritual Practices for Global Christians,” and three volumes of an ongoing series of short books on process theology: “Process and Ministry,” “Process Spirituality: Practicing Holy Adventure,” and “Process Theology: Embracing Adventure with God.” He can be reached for lectures, retreats, and seminars at firstname.lastname@example.org.