APOCALYPSE: The Time Of Rain

August 29, 2013

I keep saying to myself, it’s that time again. But I pull myself up short and make myself repeat it without the “again;” just,  it’s that time. I’m trying hard to leave out the again. Why? Because I keep getting the vision, It is serious now. Not that any period of visions has not been serious.  At least not for me.  They are always serious.  Sometimes much too serious. But I feel like I understand this reference to serious.  Even though I am one-hundred percent wrong about thinking I understand what God is saying at the beginning of any time of vision, this time (yes, this time, as opposed to all those other times), I think I understand. To be honest, for once, I don’t want to understand. I [...]

GOD 101: The Lesson Of The Rose

August 1, 2013

This is kind of a sentimental lesson for me.  It was my first, official, serious, put-into-words-so-that-you-will-understand-it lesson. My childhood visions had been more in the form of a conversation.  Albeit, a very one-sided conversation (with me not doing much of the talking).  But I did have a lot of questions.  And I did like to bend the concepts taught around a lot.  A lot. But after my few-years journey away from God (I’m on my own, now, so don’t bother me, Bubba), and ultimately finding myself smash right up against the wall that is God, a young woman now, able to get around the world on her own now.  But at every turn: God. So I surrendered.  I don’t know if I will go so far as to say [...]

VISIONS: Saint Brendan And The Crystal Pillar by John Carey

June 6, 2013

From Treasures of Irish Christianity: People and Places, Images and Texts, Salvador Ryan and Brendan Leaky, editors Stories about other worlds, whether in ancient myths or in modern science fiction, are in fact usually stories about our own world, essential aspects of which are revealed through analogies or symbols.  Accordingly, it is not surprising that the monks who, in medieval Irish tales, venture to strange regions beyond the ocean, encounter there the mysteries of their faith.  We find this illustrated in one of the most enigmatic scenes in the ninth-century Voyage of Saint Brendan: On a certain day, then, when they had celebrated Mass, a pillar appeared to them in the sea.  And it did not seem to be far away from them; but it [...]


May 17, 2013

A few days ago, someone described me as being “rigid.”  I know that it was meant (in a disguised way) to offend me.  To put me in my place.  There were other descriptions made at that time, others that made me ponder and wonder why someone would use that specific descriptive, a descriptive that held accuracy while the accuser expressed no understanding in why I was that way. But the term, rigid, has held my attention over the time that it was uttered. It has, in its own quiet way, changed the way that I look upon myself.  A nice change.  A most positive change. My reaction to being described as rigid, was: and what, exactly, would a flexible mystic look like to you? I thought about Saint Francis of Assisi responding to [...]

FURSA IN LENT: Day Twenty-Two by Paul Wallis

March 9, 2013

From Be Thou My Breastplate Let the speech of the people of Heaven be in this mouth. (Fursa’s Breastplate) John the Beloved in his island reclusion on Patmos was treated to a sequence of heavenly visions, which he recorded as the book of Revelation.  In these reports we hear the speech of martyrs and confessors, elders, and angels, along with the voice of the ascended son of God.  The heavenly speech that John reports is prophetic: it calls us to “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” The heavenly speech the apostle describes is full of encouragement too, reassuring the believer that “those who endure will not be hurt by the second death.”  This heavenly speech is also pastoral, calling the [...]

FURSA IN LENT: Day Nineteen by Paul Wallis

March 6, 2013

From Be Thou My Breastplate Let the vision that the people of Heaven have be in these eyes.  (Fursa’s Breastplate) This line of Fursa’s prayer has me approach God with a bold request indeed.  Today I am to ask God to enable me to see all things – my own life, the lives of others, the life of the world – differently.  It is surely impossible that I should pray these words without expecting God’s answer to do far more than merely alter my perspectives in some academic kind of way.  If God answers he will surely upset my very understanding of things, overturning my own order of priorities and values. In the letter to the Romans, I am told that it is through seeing things differently – having a “new [...]

FURSA IN LENT: Day Eighteen by Paul Wallis

March 5, 2013

From Be Thou My Breastplate Let the vision that the people of Heaven have be in these eyes. (Fursa’s Breastplate) Today we know a little of what it was that Fursa saw in the visions that God granted him.  Bede recounts the details of one in which Fursa perceived his countrymen to be in danger from four great fires which threatened to devour them.  These were the fires of falsehood, covetousness, discord, and injustice. But what was Fursa to do with this image once he had seen it with his own eyes?  Was it sufficient that he had seen the danger of these behaviors in order to be forewarned against them?  Was this insight given simply to guide the saint in his teaching?  What response could he make to this knowledge? For four [...]

FURSA IN LENT: Day Seventeen by Paul Wallis

March 4, 2013

From Be Thou My Breastplate Let the vision that the people of Heaven have be in these eyes. (Fursa’s Breastplate) A thousand years after Fursa’s time, in a town southwest of Fursa’s English domain, another great pastor, Richard Baxter, would memorably say, “Heaven will more than compensate any loss we suffer to gain it.  But nothing could ever compensate the loss of Heaven.”  Such vision brought that man the courage to endure slander, danger, and imprisonment in exchange for the freedom to cling to faith in Christ alone as his hope of Heaven.  This he believed and this he preached.  And he did so fearlessly because of that perspective. Fursa’s world was also one in which the missionary might pay a [...]

FURSA IN LENT: Day Sixteen by Paul Wallis

March 2, 2013

From Be Thou My Breastplate Let the vision that the people of Heaven have be in these eyes. (Fursa’s Breastplate) Fursa can see with his physical eyes and reason with his natural mind.  Today he prays for something on an altogether different level – but with what consequence in mind?  What is the difference he believes such a vision will make? A nineteenth-century Russian monk once said: If you knew the sweetness that awaits all the souls of the just in Heaven, you would be resolved to endure all the sorrows of this passing life with gratitude.  Even if your very cell were full of worms which gnawed at your flesh throughout your entire life, you would endure it all in order not to lose that heavenly joy which God has prepared [...]

MYSTICISM: Saint Teresa of Ávila — The Ironic Doctor by Francine Prose

January 12, 2013

From A Tremor of Bliss: Contemporary Writers on the Saints Irony is not the quality we associate first with the saints. Seen from this distance, and with the modernist’s double vision, their lives appear to us to have been rich in ironic and playful incident and detail.  Consider the vegetarian Nicholas of Tolentino, who, on being forced to eat a pigeon stew, caused the cooked birds’ feathers to regrow, the sauce to flow like blood in their veins, until the revivified pigeons fluttered their wings and flew out the window; or Saint Datius, who exorcised a haunted house by mocking the devil for making the sounds of ghostly animals in the night.  Let us think of Saint Ansovinus, who embarrassed a stingy innkeeper with a miraculous [...]

REFLECTION: On The New And On The Old

January 1, 2013

The way most people in the world mark the beginning of the new year strikes me as most unmystical.  The process begins with a critical self-scanning, with an assumption of responsibility for everything, and it ends with stated intentions to do whatever was wrong last year right this year. It becomes a list of “to gets.”  I’ll get this, and I’ll get that.  And I’ll top it all off with getting whatsit over there. Wonderful.  An assessment of what’s bad about me, offset set by a list of “gimmes.” Gimme a new body, more focus at work, a new girlfriend, and, of course, more money. I prefer the approach to the world that the desert fathers take: what happened yesterday, happened today, and will [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 23

December 23, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  What Would You Say Then? One day when Abba John the Little was sitting in front of the church, the brothers were consulting him about their thoughts.  One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, “John, your vessel is full of poison.” Abba John said to him, “That is very true, abba; and you have said that when you see only the outside.  But if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?” (Luke 11:39; Matthew 23:27) A Wonderful Book While Father Copres was telling us about the signs and wonders performed by Abba Patermuthius, one of our party, overcome with incredulity at what was being said, dozed off.  And [...]

MIRACLES: The Wonder Of Co-Creation, or the real significance of the word, Yes

December 4, 2012

As I poke about in the realm of miracles, realizing that it’s an amazingly broad while underwritten subject, I’m torn between delving into miracles of healing and miracles of creation.  So I finally decided to divide them up and do two posts, this one being, oh, well, you already know what this one is on. It’s easy to settle on this one because it is that time of year when we can snuggle down somewhere soft and warm and gaze upon the image of a pregnant Mary.  A simple girl who was confronted with the most amazing proposition by God. Bear my child, will you? One major problem with Mary, for us, I think, is that we look at her and say, well, that was her situation then, I’ll never be in that kind of situation with [...]


November 23, 2012

This has been a time of digging for me.  An unusual thing for me to do, to spend time praying and having visions about my emotional make-up.  Most usually, this has always been spent on studying the nature of God. Not me.  Never me.  And most certainly not or never on emotions.  (I feel like a teenage girl about to go, eeeeuuuuwwwwww.) And the thing about periods of personal spiritual growth is that I always, always wind up learning something huge about myself.  It’s as though it is a time of turn-around, of about-facing and seeing myself from a completely different viewpoint. And it’s always been about my relationship with God.  And, for me, it always comes back to shame. I can remember many times reading those I [...]

TERESA OF ÁVILA: Quixote’s Madness by Colin Dickey

November 22, 2012

From Afterlives of the Saints Lost in the limitless labyrinth of books is Teresa.  Born in March 1515 in Avila, she was born for reading and as a young girl read incessantly: “I do not believe I was ever happy if I had not a new book,” she writes in the opening of her autobiography.  She learned this love from her mother, who was fond of chivalric romances and always made time for her children to read.  Teresa’s father disapproved, thought it a waste of time, a corrupting of his children’s minds.  Teresa and her siblings had to keep the reading a secret — she began to call it “an addiction,” her “little fault.”  She read in the quiet of dark spaces, much like the young Marcel Proust, who centuries later described [...]

SOULS: Nine Short Writings on the Soul by Mechthild of Magdeburg

November 20, 2012

The Soul Praises God for Five Things O Emperor of all honors. O Crown of all sovereigns. O Wisdom of all the learned. O Giver of all gifts. O Deliverer of all imprisonments. How God Comes to the Soul I come to my beloved as the dew upon the flower. How the Soul Receives and Praises God Ah, joyous sight! Ah, lovely greeting! Ah, dear embrace! Lord, the wonder of you has overwhelmed me. Your grace has crushed me. O you lofty Crag. You are so nicely honeycombed. In you no one can rest but doves and nightingales. How God Receives the Soul Welcome, my precious dove. You have flown so keenly over the earth That your feathers reach to heaven. God Likens the Soul to Four Things You taste like a grape. Your fragrance is like balsam. Your radiance [...]

ANGELS: The Nine Choirs, How They Sing by Mechthild of Magdeburg

November 20, 2012

Now hear, my Beloved: listen with spiritual ears. Thus do the nine choirs sing: We praise you, Lord, that you sought us in your humility. We praise you, Lord, that you have kept us in your mercy. We praise you, Lord, that you have glorified us in your humiliation. We praise you, Lord, that you have provided for us in your generosity. We praise you, Lord, that you have arranged us in rank in your wisdom. We praise you, Lord, that you have shielded us with your might. We praise you, Lord, that you have sanctified us with your nobility. We praise you, Lord, that you have instructed us in your intimacy. We praise you, Lord, that you have elevated us in your [...]

POETRY: Twenty Powers Of God’s Love And Many Kinds Of Names by Mechthild of Magdeburg

November 20, 2012

Ah, dear divine Love, ever embrace my soul, For it would murder me beyond all pain If I were to be separated from you! Ah, Love, let me now not grow cold, My actions are all dead When I do not feel you. O Love, you cause sweet pain and distress; You give the true children of God instruction and consolation. O Fetter of love, Your tender hand is strong. It binds both young and old. O Love, you make large burdens light, And to you small sins seem heavy. You serve without reward Ministering to all creatures. Ah, sweet divine Love, whenever I sleep too long And miss good things, Be so kind and awaken me, And sing to me, Lady, your song With which you touch the soul Like a sweet chord of strings. Ah, Lady Love, throw me beneath you. I would [...]

MYSTICISM: Who Am I?, by John Coats

November 15, 2012

From Portland I’ve had a number of them, actually, all unexpected.  There was, for example, the moment I came face-to-face with van Gogh’s self-portrait in Paris, the one in which he is without a hat, in which his craziness seems, literally, to radiate off him like rays from the sun.  All that mad beauty left me wide open, on the edge of something glorious and transcendent.  And there’ve been other moments of magnitude.  But the big one for me came in 1958, a few months after my twelfth birthday, less than a mile from my home, and in a place as foreign to my experience as Pluto. I’d grown up a Southern Baptist, with its Low-Church Protestantism, its plain architecture, and minimalist sanctuaries.  I’d never seen anything [...]

MYSTICISM: A Time For Change

November 9, 2012

It’s as though my life is being reflected in the season these months.  Leaves are blowing around, no longer of any use.  The amount of sunlight is constrained.  Grey, heavy clouds cling to the sky. A time pointing at death, yet holding the secret of life deep in its belly. I can’t remember how long ago it was for me when the drops of God’s words hit my head and bounced off: You are in the first level of your learning.  When you give away what I have taught you, you will enter the second level of your learning. They were just raindrops, after all, disappearing into the night.  Because invariably my response was: That’s never going to happen. I was perfectly prepared to go through life never opening my mouth to [...]

MYSTICISM: The Stages Of Visions

October 30, 2012

It is somewhat of an overwhelming challenge to come out of there’s-a-storm-that-wants-to-get-into-my-house-can-I-keep-it-out mode and think about writing.  It is equally challenging to stop shaking with concern about my daughter’s well-being, she who sat in the middle of a tree-drop zone, where trees were crashing down into houses and onto cars like flower blossom petals in the springtime, and power lines swung about like jump ropes in action. So, a few thousand deep breaths later, and we’re off.  Well, I’m off. But that’s nothing new. In my extensive experience with visions, for me, the rhythm of them takes about four steps.  Not that every vision follows the same path.  Or even that all visions take the [...]

SATURDAY READING: Revelation, by Flannery O’Connor

October 20, 2012

(Caution: this story is lengthy, and contains some offensive language.) This story gave Flannery O’Connor great pleasure.  She wrote of the two central characters, “I like Mrs. Turpin as well as Mary Grace.  You got to be a very big woman to shout at the Lord across a hogpen.  She’s a country female Jacob.  And that vision [at the end] is purgatorial.”  —Robert Ellsberg, Flannery O’Connor: Spiritual Writings The doctor’s waiting room, which was very small, was almost full when the Turpins entered and Mrs. Turpin, who was very large, made it look even smaller by her presence.  She stood looming at the head of the magazine table set in the center of it, a living demonstration that the room was inadequate and [...]

ANGELS: The Choirs of Angels by Hildegard of Bingen

September 17, 2012

From: Scivias, Book One, Vision Six Then I saw in the secret places in the heights of Heaven two armies of heavenly spirits who shone with great brightness.  Those in one of the armies had on their breasts wings, with forms like human forms in front of them, on which human features showed as if in clear water.  Those in the second army also had wings on their breasts, which displayed forms like human forms, in which the image of the Son of Man shone as if in a mirror.  And I could see no other form either in these or in the others.  These armies were arrayed in the shape of a crown around five other armies.  Those in the first of these five armies seemed as if they had human forms that shone with great splendor from the shoulders [...]

SCRIPTURE: Hearing My Master’s Voice

September 14, 2012

During my lifetime I have read(ish) the Bible through(ish) a number of times. I have a collection of reading plans.  One even from the time of Elizabeth I, with readings from 3 Kings and 4 Kings. I say read, when what I really mean is hum. I think that during my life, I have tended to hum with the imagined sound of a bassoon in the back of my mind while reading the Bible.  It beats having to pay attention to it, after all.  Except the good parts.  I pay attention(ish) to the good parts.  Like the story of Tamar in Genesis. The humming is so bad that in spite of the fact that every morning and evening, during prayers, I read that section of psalms that is carved out in my prayerbook (there was even quite a long time when, in addition [...]

MYSTICISM: Distinguishing Between God And The Devil In Supernatural Locutions

August 14, 2012

The Greek word, diakrisis, refers to distinguishing, dividing and judging, and it is used for discerning the spirits, for evaluating whence comes a particular communication.  Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 12:10 of a gift of recognizing spirits, and he lists it among sundry other charisms given to the faithful: preaching, faith, healing, working miracles, tongues and such like.  The community is admonished in 1 Corinthians 14:29 to test the origin of the alleged communications from the prophets. (Authenticity, Thomas Dubay) I went ahead and used John of the Cross’s term for communications from God, supernatural locutions.  It seems to be a nice, neat way to succinctly describe these kind of communications. On two extended [...]

MYSTICISM: John of the Cross’s Three Forms Of Communication From God

August 10, 2012

The following quotes are from The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 2, Chapters 28 through 31. When I categorize my visions, I do so in a most informal way, coming up with umbrellas that I think might cover some of the most obvious characteristics.  And then I give these groups really, really fancy and well thought names: names such as A, and B, and I even have a category that I call, weapons. But that’s another story altogether. But John of the Cross takes a whole lot deeper approach to categorizing communications from God.  He is limiting himself in this work to those communications that involve words.  And while emotions and even actions may result of these visions, for this effort, he is addressing how God communicates. Now I [...]

TALES FROM BEYOND THE HORIZON: My First Vision, or Love’s Touch

July 24, 2012

I was a toddler, or a little beyond toddling.  And while this is nowadays referred to as a near-death experience, I look on it as a vision because it opened doors in my brain and my heart and my soul, and changed my life significantly.  The way I experienced life.  The way I understood life.  The way I lived life. Years ago I took the time to describe the vision.  It reads: Her arms lifted slowly from her sides and arced gracefully over her head.  Her wrists came together, letting her hands hand like fruit too ripe for the tree.  The pink of her tutu suffused her body, so that the color shone from within her.  I was completely mesmerized. One leg bent at the knee, lifted slowly up, pointed out.  On her toes, she twirled, bent [...]

GOD 101: As You Love. . .

July 13, 2012

I received a vision recently.  A big vision.  A powerful, yet sublimely quiet vision.  A vision that made me turn around and look at life in a completely new way.  Seeing things in life that I had never seen before.  It was there all along.  But not, until now, in my “seeing.” I have been using as my focus for my rosary and contemplative prayers a prayer that asks God to come through me and help me to use my gifts in cooperation with his plan of salvation. It seemed a simple enough prayer when I started out.  Obvious.  Easily workable.  But my reaction to this prayer was unique for me.  I have experienced “dry” prayers, those prayers that feel like you could forget the words even as you say them.  And I [...]

GOD 101: On the Nature of Illusions

June 22, 2012

There is  an infinite amount of types of thoughts.  In visions, however, in general, there are three qualities of thought: truth, untruths, and illusions. When people ask me, how do you know your visions are from God?  I always answer immediately with one word, accuracy. For who else can break through the curtain of time and show me something that is going to happen sometime in the midst of the uncertain future and be absolutely correct about it all?  If anything, life on Earth proves itself from moment-to-moment to be completely undependable, unpredictable, unsteady.  Temperatures rise, underground fissures open, people turn around and go the other way. It’s not a hard and fast reality.  It’s anything but hard and fast. [...]

MIRACLES: Caedmon’s Hymn

February 24, 2012

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago there was a simple man who tended cows for an abbey in England.  His name was Caedmon.  Because he worked for an abbey, he lived with the other lay workers.  After dinner each night the workers would sit in a circle, and, one by one, each would entertain his fellows with a song.  A harp passed from man to man indicated whose turn it was to sing. Every night, before the harp would reach him, Caedmon would leave the circle and go home or go out to the barns to sleep with his animals. Caedmon could not sing.  Neither did he know any songs.  So he just left the circle when it was his turn. Then, one night, while Caedmon slept in the barn, a man came to him in a dream and ordered him to sing. The [...]