Lesson 20: Mystical Christianity
By Rev. Judith Lichtenberger
1. As outlined in our lesson, intimacy as in any other relationship begins with honest conversation. It is different with a human friend who in the initial stages of friendship often chooses to embellish personality and interests in order to hold attention. God, in contrast, sees through our human façade down to the bare bones. We can not help but be honest with Him. So, what intimacy can we hope to achieve? We can be certain that He will nurture that friendship in spite of our short-comings. We are His children. What good parent will not uphold the positive characteristics of a beloved child?
As far as intimacy is concerned – I tell God in prayer my thoughts and desires. I request guidance from Him and I know He will not steer me wrong. I beg Him to stay by me in my worst moments. I know a human friend might try but never be able to impart strength in the throes of illness or mental anguish.
2. On a personal level, I feel that prayer is always keeping in touch with our Savior. It does not necessarily mean "putting in a request" but just ordinary conversations with Jesus which will eventually lead to a positive life-long relationship with God.
Meditation is a skill which must be developed. It is leaving the world behind, closing out the distractions and getting a special focus on the divine. This is an aspect of "prayer life" which I need to work on. I am an individual who is easily distracted by worldly cares and I pray that my life journey will lead me one day to the peace contained in that meditative state. Prayer is always with me – meditation is not something which comes naturally to me.
Julian requested an affliction from God to develop her focus on the divine and eventually experience a miraculous healing. Her life of humility and self sacrifice was an example to all others. She let the world in so she could show others how to take the good from God's creation (there IS good in the world!) and then let the evil (her disease) out. I am reminded of the "Dr. Faustus" character (novel based on the legend) of Thomas Mann. In his novel, the main character, Leverkuhn, contracts a disease purposely for the sake of his art- the suffering of the artist- but for him, God does not intervene and creativity must be its own reward.
With Julian, the reward is hope and her good works for the benefit of her order and the fortunate others who learn from her example.
Theresa is a mystery to me with such strength of character that she can dwell in each castle room and leave detailed instructions for us to enter in as well. The effort of her victory is daunting but the "pictures" which she paints of the various "mansions" would certainly make the struggle worthwhile.
The 21st century is only a number and name of an era. The divine is not obligated to "modernize" because mysticism is as old as creation – a journey within, of the spirit back to its origins, back to God.
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