With Today in My Eyes
By Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.
We can suppress it, resist it, or even pretend it is not there. Still, it can never be destroyed. If it happens at all, it occurs silently in the concrete events of our everyday, with others or when alone. Even when we are with others, it is a second Abiding Presence.
It is mysticism that makes the human heart restless. It is mysticism which quietly tells us that not only is there a beyond to everything but that there is a Gracious Personal Presence always at work within us and through us, gently guiding and holding us even in the most humble unsensational moments of our lives.
Moments of Mysticism
This beyondness of the human heart comes upon us in various ways.
We experience mysticism in joyful times, celebrations, being with friends and family, moments of special insight, moments when life makes sense, when things are experienced as fitting together and we have the sense that we ourselves are a part of that harmony.
We experience mysticism in our own longings, our hungers, our sense of incompleteness, our feelings of being separated from the very Source of our being.
And, then there is the mysticism of darkness and suffering, that abiding personal call to surrender to Love and growth, the mysticism of human ache and unfulfilled desires, the mysticism of being called to live life, not even knowing the plan of the project, or so it seems.
The Pain of God
Another kind of mysticism could aptly be called "the mysticism of the pain of God," those times when we experience life situations and know that this is not the way God really wants things to be. Writers tell us that for this to happen, one usually has had a previous personal experience of God, often quite ordinary. It is as if one has had a brief prior moment of "flight from the world" into the Heart of God, thus enabling one to see things as they were meant to be.
We could ask how one stays in touch with such a wonderful but seemingly invisible reality as mysticism. Along this line, there is an old religious custom called the Examen. In this exercise, the serious seeker is encouraged to pause for a few minutes in the middle of the day and to ask, "in what way have I met God this morning? Looking ahead to this afternoon, where am I likely to see God?" In the evening, before retiring, one reflects on the whole of one's day. Truly, only the reflected life is worth living.
In the book of Genesis(28:16ff), Jacob had a dream. In it, a stairway reached from earth to the heavens. It is interesting to note that God stood night beside Jacob and not at the top of the stairway, so close to the heavens. Then, the Lord said, "Know that I am with you. I will protect you wherever you go and bring you I will never leave you until have done: what I have promised. Jacob awoke, rubbed his eyes and, exclaimed, "Truly, God was in this place and I did not know it!"
Being On the Way
Lastly, there is the mysticism of being on the way every single day. Citing the thinking of Karl Rahner, Donald Buggert, O.Carm., refers to this as the primary mystical experi- ence, "the courageous acceptance of life and of oneself' and the willingness to fully enter into the process of being human, knowing that it is only in ordinary daily life that God is experienced. 'With today in my eyes" is an expression used by Truman Capote. May all of us, in the end, meet God with today in our eyes, with today in our hearts.
The above reflection was inspired by: "Grace and Religious Experience", by Donald Buggert, O.Carm. Published in Master of the Sacred Page. Editors, Keith Egan, Craig Morrison, Michael Wastag. Washington, D.C.: The Carmelite Institute, 1997, pp.189-218.
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