Monday, 26 May 2014

It's This, Or Nothing

"Mysticism begins when the totally transcendent image of God starts to recede; and there's a deepening sense of God as immanent, present, here, now, within me. Augustine's line was "God is more intimate to me than I am to myself” or “more me than I am myself." St. Catherine of Genoa shouted it in the streets, "My deepest me is God!"

So you must overcome the gap to know—and then Someone Else is doing the knowing through you. God is no longer "out there." At this point, it's not like one has a new relationship with God; it's like one has a whole new God! “God himself is my counselor, and at night my innermost being instructs me,” says the Psalmist (16:7).

The mystics are those who are let in on this secret mystery of God's love affair with all souls, and recognize the simultaneous love affair with the individual soul—as if it were the only one God loves. It's absolutely our unique affair, and that sets the whole thing on a different and deeper ground than mere organized religion can ever achieve by itself.

Recently, I gave my friend Alex my crucifix. Ten inches high, steel, comtempory design: the hanging man announcing, wordlessly,  acceptance of the struggle, the inevitability of suffering, and ultimately, the victory of the human spirit over everything, even death. 

"If this holds no meaning for you, hand it back to me, because it's precious: but if you understand  it, keep it." He kept it. 

I am done with collecting things, it is time to be giving them away. This, I believe is wisdom. I am well into the second half of my life and my work now is to give out: this is all the purpose one's life needs. To be done with collecting, gathering in, building up making a name for oneself, getting to the top of the heap .. . It's the season for letting go, it is the death before I die, it is freedom. I write this with a light and grateful heart: this isn't morbidity or depression, this is parting with the things, material and spiritual that I no longer want or need, so that I may proceed unhindered into my last years, hopefully, joyfully, with a deeper awareness of what really matters. 

The opening paragraphs were written by Richard Rohr OFM, whom I met when he visited England a few years ago, and whose teachings have had  such a great effect on me. 

Someone once asked me if I am a mystic.How I laughed! One of those first half of life things I've given up, is trying to be good. ( If mystics WERE good... )  I was such a prig when I was trying to be good. Now I don't try to be anything except me, and that, I am learning is good enough! That battle's over. I do though, know what the mystics know, which is the outcome of another battle - faith v skepticism. I am a theist, but it is the God of the mystics, the Indwelling One that I know and honour, not the bossy intolerant anti-Christ of pseudo-religion. 

No, my God is the lover of my soul, who, funnily enough, appears to have faith in me to accept the struggle, to acknowledge the suffering and ultimately to know, as another mystic, Mother Julian of Norwich did, that, " All shall be well. And all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."


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