I post here on Modern Mysticism far less frequently than on my other blogs, especially Blest Atheist, which I try to keep up with near daily. Here, unless I feel an external compulsion, I hesitate to add a post because I often feel that I am in over my head. I don't completely understand the mystic phenomena that I experience or live within, nearly always being surrounded by a diaphanous cloud that is, to me, the Presence of God. I feel like I need to reflect upon what happens, but reflection does not take me very far. The more I try to understand, the more I simply get pulled into the diaphanous ether without explanation but with such a warm feeling of love, of being "home"," of safety, and of mutual desire, that I instinctively stop thinking and just start "being." I try to learn more through reading, but it appears that God reacts with each author and each person differently so I have not, to date, found a complete match. I talk to the people in my spiritual circles -- God has blessed me with many -- but most think I need to be medicated (and these are spiritual people; if I were to mention these experiences to the rank-and-file on the street, I probably would be hauled off and medicated). I occasionally come across individuals who have had similar experiences (but not identical; as with the authors I read, it appears that God more often prefers unique, rather than common, experiences, at least with me and the people I know). I do thank God for putting these folks (whom I had not known earlier) in my life. It is enough, then, for me not to pronounce myself definitively crazy.
Just to make sure, I suppose, because I am such a hard-headed person, God gave me a couple of very special priests, with whom I can discuss mystic events and be taken seriously, even helped, in some cases, to determine authenticity, which is a very important thing to me. I also read and re-read and re-read both St. Theresa of Avila's works on authenticity and Fr. Thomas Dubay's wonderful book by the same title, Authenticity. Fr. Thomas Dubay's book helped me understand that I was not rejecting God by seeking to determine whether what I experience is real or not real. In fact, he suggests that all mystic happenings be treated as questionable until they can be examined together with a priest. Thank God, I have two who will do that with me, one of whom, Fr. Barry, is local and ready to listen and reflect at any time, the other of whom, Fr. Kevin, is a bit of a drive away but conducts the contemplative prayer sessions that I find so mathemagenic and formative.
I was in the midst of contemplative prayer, albeit more distracted than usual, this morning when I felt compelled to write this post. I thought (moment of distraction during the prayer) that I would write it after the 20 minutes that I had set aside for contemplation had passed. (Whoa! Note the arrogance! I had decided how much time I would spend in contemplation with God. Should it not have been the other way around? I mean, I do have to plan around a busy life, don't I? Ah, there is that arrogance again -- I should not be too busy for God; I should be grateful that God is never too busy for me. This is the second time this week this lesson has been dropped into my head, and I probably should heed it.)
Anyway, the more I tried to stay within a contemplative frame, the more I felt compelled to write this post. Finally, I decided that perhaps God was sending a message to his hard-headed lover and that I should just get up and obey. (If it was not a message, then no harm done, either.)
The topic I felt compelled to discuss is "intimacy" -- not intimacy with other people, but intimacy with God, a concept I would have laughed at a few years ago before my conversion. I have since met many people who would laugh at it now. I do not laugh at it now because I have experienced it. Describing it, though, is something for which I fear I do not have adequate words. Simply put, I experience it as the Presence Without joining the Presence Within. It is as if I am surrounded by a Diaphanous Cloud that all of a sudden I realize is no longer outside me but within and throughout and all around me, sort of like walking into a big, penetrating bubble, but I did not do the moving. At the risk of raising some eyebrows at my choice of comparative metaphor, I would say that this experience for me approximates the intimacy of sex without the involvement of the sexual organs but rather reflects those aspects that for one brief moment in time allow two people to become one. I wish I could describe this gift of intimacy in a purer fashion because it is a purer experience than I am describing here, perhaps than I am capable of describing.
Since I cannot do better at description than the above, I am going to retire from this post to read more and to research more. Oh, and to give God access to me whenever He wants it!
Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
3 days ago