Doesn’t Christmas always seem to go by in a blur? All the planning, all the preparation, and it’s over before you know it. But there may be a way to make this Christmas more memorable and meaningful: add a little mysticism to your schedule.
Mysticism is a part of the Christian tradition and while there are slightly different definitions of the term, I think of it this way: Mysticism is the knowledge of God that comes from a direct experience of God. This experience of sensing the Divine is felt deeply within and can create a sense of comfort, wonder, even bliss, that is not a part of everyday life.
There may be no better time to engage in a mystical experience than right now, this holiday season. Writing in The Soul of Christmas, Thomas Moore tells us that:
Christmas offers an opportunity to get in touch with your own mystical side. We are all potential mystics. Just stand still in the presence of a beautiful sunset and your mysticism will be activated.
Moore mentions other ways to activate this mysticism within including being out in nature, immersing yourself in art or reading a spiritual classic. He stresses the importance of adding this mystical element to our spiritual lives, now and in the future. In his words:
Nothing could be more important than finding ways to incorporate in your person and your life the moment when the spiritual realm fully intersects with your ordinary life.
How do ordinary people like you and I become mystics?
Moore tells us “you don’t have to be a Christian or a member of any religion to do these things.” However, “you don’t become a mystic by wishing it so. There’s work to do. You need some quiet time, some contemplation, some meditation, some deprivation and some deep prayer.”When Moore mentions deprivation, I take it to mean, when appropriate, withdrawing from the hustle and bustle that often marks the holidays and finding some alone time. Moore stresses the need for quiet in this passage:
The mystical life has some quiet in it. Quiet can be the atmosphere you create; not all the time, of course, but at moments when it’s convenient and possible. The idea is to create an environment in which you can reflect and can listen to what the world has to say to you. You become quiet to be a good listener.
Moore talks about enjoying the quiet times in his own home, “especially in early morning and late evening.” These are times we all can enjoy. I like nothing better than to rise before the rest of the household, pour myself a cup of coffee, and bask in the early morning sunlight. Over the years, we have collected boxloads of Christmas tchotchkes and they are scattered around our home. I scan whatever room I’m in and take them all in.
But the best time to ignite the mystic within may be late at night, sitting in a room with the only light coming from candles or a lit Christmas tree. (For me, the cup of coffee replaced by a glass of eggnog.) It is at these times, when we can quiet ourselves and the voice within, that we may be able to sense and experience the presence of God. It is a time to give thanks for all that we have and all that is to come.
Moore sees the process of igniting the mystic within a necessary task, especially at this time of year. While we celebrate with family and friends, we also need to find the time to remove ourselves from the busyness of life, to unplug and recharge. It is a journey we all can make. Moore advises us:
If you take Christmas to heart and get past the anxiety in arranging for gifts and parties, you will rediscover yourself every year. It will be the celebration of both the birth of Jesus and the birth of your own soul.