REFLECTION: The Problem With Being A Mystic

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I was very young, not even in school yet, when I was first seized by God.  Frozen.  Held.  Captured.

And learning to recognize what was happening to me after that, learning how to connect on a regular basis, as though it was a natural thing to do.

And it was for me.  Natural to talk with God.

More natural than running around with other children.  Or being a part of the family.

Real life, real people, was a real part of me, and I endured it the best I could.  But it was those times sitting on my grandmother’s high wall beside her house, snuggled under a spreading tree, or sitting with my back against a tree at the edge of an open field with the blue sky dabbed with clouds above me, that made me feel whole.

There was so much to it.

The challenge of the lessons.  The freedom to ask questions, and have them answered.  Being shown how to reach through time and know the future.

And the consistent, gentle respect.  Nothing varying.  Consistent love.

Never any impatience with my inabilities and ignorance.

Twice in my childhood I found myself wanting something.

And twice, as though this is how life worked, what I wanted rolled into my life.

I sat on the lap of God when I was a child.  I listened.  I even managed to understand.  It took work and concentration, and I was more than willing to give this relationship all I had to give.

But I grew up.  As children do.

And I became acutely aware of how different I was.  How differently I functioned in the world.

I didn’t come across anyone I could be easy with talking about who I was.

And, then, there was that.

Who I Was.

Those lessons began a period of profound confusion for me.

I knew I had to live in this world.  I knew I had to be part of family and society and world.  So how could I be what God says I am?

It couldn’t be.

I was just a stupid girl, now faced with having to know if what had happened to me as a child was real.

Or insanity.

So I walked away from God.

I wanted to know where I started in my life and God ended.  Who was me.  And who was God.

And what was God.

And where was God.

I guess you could say that that time was a time of me going undercover.

I’m not a mystic, oh no.  Never heard of God.

But staying ever alert to anyone who mentioned having a relationship with God.  A vision of Jesus.  A miracle that came as an answer to a prayer.

Mapping the landscape of God on Earth.

There were lessons, as a child, that I didn’t take to.

Evil, for one.

What was the purpose of it, really?

Silly stuff.

It really wasn’t until I was so much older, when I was studying the disciples and saw how most of them were just wiped away from their work with the sweep of a hand.  I “saw” Evil chomping down on them as easily as we eat potato chips.

And my reality about the world changed then.

Evil suddenly mattered.

Evil was in front of us.

And behind us.

And in us.

I grew up.


Surrendering, in the end, to the reality that I am a mystic.  I do have a very active relationship with God.  I can “do” things that I don’t notice others being able to do.

And so I settled into accepting who I am, and knowing that I am some kind of freak.

Nothing special.

Just a misshapened human.  I began to enjoy reading the prophets.  And books about mystics in times long ago.  Weird people.  Fanatics.  Lunatics, even.

Emotional.  Not following the rules.  Letting themselves be destroyed because they wouldn’t let go of who they were.

And so I settled into it all.

Well, perhaps not all.

There was always the issue of Who I Am.

That I always kept my back to.

Door firmly closed.  Locked.  Multiple times.

No entry.

No exit.

But it has only been very recently, now an old lady with gray hair and achy knees, that I realized the real problem of being a mystic in the world.

The most important relationship I have had in my life is with someone, something that doesn’t exist in a tangible way.

There is no impatience.  No lost temper.  No misunderstandings.  No woundings.

Just persistency and consistency on his side.

And stridency and lowered horns on mine.

Yes, we tussled.  But it was done in silence.  In safety.

In time.

Things would be resolved in time.

Most things, anyway.

And there was the 100% absolute proving, day after day, how completely ignorant I am.  How slow to learn anything.  How fully human.

Yet not part of humanity.

Not really.

That’s the problem.

I’m having to learn, awkwardly, always awkwardly, that I can be right about things.  With other people.

That I can assert myself, be disagreed with, and still keep on succeeding with what I want to get done.

I’m not the child on the lap.  I’m not the one given these immense graces.

I’m a person who can do this and that.  Perhaps good at some things.  Horrible at others.

But that’s the problem.

I have known all my life that I can trust God.  That I can rely on him to be there.  Even in the silence.  That I have ways to get things done with him.

And I’m learning only now in my life that perhaps there is a person that I can trust on Earth the way I trust God.

It’s not an easy lesson for me, studying mankind instead of God.

It’s very, very difficult in fact.

Not that I ever didn’t complain about how hard certain lessons were.  But this study of mankind has its own challenges.  Very unlike what it is like to study God.

Because God is everything.

And we are not.

We have edges and corners and decayed walls that form barriers.  While God is infinite, we are only infinite in our smallness.  In our unlikeness to God.

And yet, there is light here and there.

Light that we have God in us.

And how is that for a study?

In the form of man, there is God.

Somehow.  Somewhere.

We can reach out of our littleness and touch.

We can heal another person.

We can help another person.

We can save another person.

We can love another person.

And that’s the problem with being a mystic.

I have to stop now and learn to reach out to others as God reaches out to us. 

I have to learn to be me on Earth.


6 Comments on REFLECTION: The Problem With Being A Mystic

  1. Thank you. A very nice post. But a bit pessimistic.

    “Because God is everything.- And we are not”

    Does this statement actually make sense?

    “We have edges and corners and decayed walls that form barriers. While God is infinite, we are only infinite in our smallness. In our unlikeness to God.”

    If God is limitless then it seems unlikely that human beings can have experiences that God does not have. Which is suggestive. The successful mystic goes beyond the barriers. Have you come across Attar’s ‘Conference of the Birds’, a famous teaching story that gives a more optimistic view of Man and God.

    “As a child, for a joke, hides behind an armchair from his mother, God plays at separating himself from God through creation. We are this joke of God’s.”

    Simone Weil
    La Connaissance Surnaturelle


  2. Thanks Julia for expressing this poetically and honestly. It reminded my of St. John of the Cross’ poem; it is a mere 8 stanzas (really only 8 sentences) that have endured over the ages: May you find joy in being a mystic the Holy One created you to be. Shalom.


  3. Hi,

    I love your frankness and honesty. My life with God mimics yours and sometimes we cannot escape the anguish produced by our gift. I consider the ‘pessimism’ part of the job. It was the same with Ezekiel and many other Bible mystics. When God shows you the truth, it is not always pretty. When others can’t see, what you see…it get’s lonely.

    Be blessed and know that you are chosen and special. Many people long for the gifts we have but only a few have it.

    I would love you to read some of my experiences with God, so feel free to check out my blog.




  4. I would love to be in touch.
    I am exploring William Stringfellow and came across your blog.


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