A book that questioned my basic premise about the nature of reality, rekindled joy in my drooping spirit then challenged me to change.
Twenty-five years ago, my husband discovered a book at a Trappist monastery that changed our lives, called “Guidelines to Mystical Prayer” by a British Carmelite nun, Ruth Burrows. She describes Petra, a woman who lives only by faith without any experiences of God, and Claire, a “light on” nun who experiences mystical encounters. Both women know with absolute clarity that their core identity has shifted from ego-centric to Christ-centric. The Spirit of Jesus lives in them and they live surrounded by the Holy Spirit, plugged into the universal God.
We poured over this book, reading it again and again, soaking in every nuance, digging out every morsel, every detail which described this new life. My husband and I were filled with an exuberant joy because we finally we realized that our deepest longings could be fulfilled, that a simple spiritual life was real, was possible.
I saw a similar epiphany in a brilliant young friend who was a confirmed atheist, although when I asked what he had read on spirituality or Christianity he simply replied, “The library”! We were praying while Davin relaxed on the margins of the group when he suddenly started to laugh. Our eyes popped open in surprise. The quiet, subdued young man was beaming.
“I’m hot all over, especially inside my chest. It is like a glowing, warm, golden mist that’s all around me, inside of me…but it was there all the time; I just couldn’t feel it or see it. It’s like all of a sudden I am plugged into a circuit board of power that has been here the whole time. God is real. He exists. I can’t believe it. Why did I not see something all around me, in my face? Oh and I feel this energy flowing between everyone in this room and connecting to me as well, like electrical currents,like invisible bands or cords. I want to jump up and down and start yelling on the top of my voice that God exists and He is right here.”
We have all read of saints who claim to live in mystical union with Christ. The image that comes to mind is of a medieval monk, morose and miserable, wearing a hair shirt and living on bread and water. However I discovered that the claims of saints are not bogus but true and furthermore that it is completely realistic that I expect that I too will live joyfully in the Resurection. The accounts of the saints might be couched in fanciful, archaic laguage but they are not allegories or fairytales. This Resurrected life is not a for a select few because humans are wired for a life lived in and through a mystical connection to God.
It is true.
It is really true
It is not an allegory.
It is not a life for only a select few because humans are wired for a life lived in and through a mystical connection to God their Father