It was only recently that I first heard of “everyday mysticism.” It is such a perfect way to describe how many live. So often we think of mystics as people who have extremely powerful and unusual experiences in prayer, then there is something wrong with me. How come I am missing out?
Most of us have experiences of God, but we do not call them that. Over time and with the help of others, we start to recognize that it is God who blesses us with a grace here and a grace there. These things that are happening to me are not just by chance. We start to think maybe God is interested in me. Maybe God is the Lord of my life. Maybe it is all right to believe that God's love of me is something that is active and real in my life. To grow in this belief is to come to be at ease with the idea that God does hold the world in love. God is within each of us and is not just sitting there doing nothing. God is really drawing us closer to Godself, to a greater intimacy with the one who creates the world! This is what it means to be living a mystical life.
So everyday mysticism is not just a more human way of living, it is also a more effective way of being a missionary. Actually, it is also the purpose of mission. Everyone on earth was made by God and finds their fulfilment and happiness in God. As missionaries, our task is to help each person we meet on their journey into God. It is to help everyone to grow in their relationship with God and so to live more mystically. We become more and more mystical missionaries every day!
Whatever about being an everyday mystic I think that being a missionary in Australia or New Zealand today has its own challenges. The religious landscape has changed rather dramatically. Parents lament the fact that their children and grandchildren do not find in the Christian faith the deep satisfaction and security that they themselves find there. Likewise, priests are seeing shrinking numbers of people in the pews. This is also true in Ireland and most of Europe. Why is this so? There is talk of secularism, of different philosophies and cultural patterns. What can we do about all of these things? It is way beyond our competence to change the direction of such massive forces.
What we can do is to attend to the desire within our own hearts. We know when our spirits are dry, and we know when they are being nourished. Believing that this is all a hunger for God, we can keep searching, keep knocking and praying, that we may find the way. Our life in the Spirit takes time to grow. The change and transformation that goes on in us is an everyday thing. It is God helping us to grow through the relationships and experiences of our ordinary lives. We discover ourselves in this ordinary process of life and we also discover God there. As God becomes the centre and meaning of our lives, others will speak of us as “everyday mystics” who are doing our missionary best.
Believing that this is all ha hunger for God, we can keep searching, keep knocking and praying, that we may find the way.
Columban Fr. Trevor Trotter lives and works in Australia/New Zealand.