For the past 20 years I have been an academic. I have worked with academics. I have thought like an academic. I’ve spent hours upon hours assisting others in their academic work. It’s how I made my living. But before that I was a pastor/minister for 18 years. And, in between, I spent 5 years as a storyteller/children’s librarian. Through it all I’ve been a mystic. My life of faith began with a mystical experience. As I’ve said before in a previous post, my education began with a mystical experience. When depression and anxiety due to PTSD threatened my life and put an end to this chapter of my life, I was sustained by a mystical experience. Since then I’ve continued to have mystical experiences. They come as a result of contemplation, that is, when I am emptying myself of as many thoughts as possible and slowing down the feelings as much as possible. They come during meditation as I ponder the glory of God in the midst of creation.
What I seldom admit out loud is that I am a Carmelite aficionado. I find my spiritual mentors and guides and friendships among the Carmelite masters. I am not Roman Catholic so some (who are Roman Catholic) would say that I cannot be Carmelite because I am not Roman Catholic. Whatever.
My guides are John of the Cross, Teresa of Ávila, Brother Lawrence, Thérèse of Lisieux, and the like. I have a special devotion to Mary for she pondered “all these things in her heart.” (Lk 2:19) She’s the mother of all contemplatives.
I’ll end this post with a reminder for those who have read the About Me post and as information for those who have not read it. I am a Protestant clergy-person, a liberal Protestant clergy-person at that. Nevertheless, I have been and continue to be intimately tied to the Carmelites as a lay-person who is not Roman Catholic.
“God is more pleased by one work, however small, done secretly, without desire that it be known, than a thousand done with the desire that people know of them. Those who work for God with purest love not only care nothing about whether others see their works, but do not even seek that God himself know of them. Such persons would not cease to render God the same services, with the same joy and purity of love, even if God were never to know of these.” — The Sayings of Light and Love in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, translated by Kavanaugh and Rodriguez. Washington, DC: ICS Publications, 1991. Pp. 86-87