Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I continue to think about Karl Rahner's saying: The devout Christian of the future will either be a "mystic"... or he will cease to be anything at all. When I began this blog three years ago, one of the words I used to describe myself was "mystic." I thought that someone googling "mystic" might find my blog, but the word has come to mean things quite different from the way I understand myself.
In his book The Naked Now Richard Rohr says that a mystic is simply "one who has moved from mere belief systems or belonging systems to actual inner experience." This reflects my understanding that what matters most in religion is our union with God, our relationship with God.
When I walked this morning this scene stopped me. It's pretty ordinary. Maybe it was the variety of subtle colors or the way they related to each other, but I stopped and just looked for a while. As I looked I became aware of God's presence. When I continued walking these images stayed with me, as did the awareness of God's presence. On my way back I took this picture.
This kind of contemplation and inner experience has little to do with what religion I belong to or with what doctrines I believe. It has to do with God seizing me in this extremely natural way. That's what I understand as mysticism. Mystical experience is available to anybody who is willing to let themselves be seized. I hope that is what Rahner means when he says it is essential that we be mystics. We cannot be satisfied with reciting prayers or going to church or any "religious practices," unless they bring us to this inner experience of the Divine.