The heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament proclaims the work of his hands ... -- King David (Psalm 19)One line of reasoning that shows the rightful place of Christian mysticism is based on creation. When creation is viewed as holy, mysticism is simply allowing ourselves to see this, to know it by experience and by appreciation, not merely by analysis. Beauty, awe, and wonder are a fitting part of our experience in this world; when we ignore these things we lose something valuable.
Creation and God's Character
Beyond seeing the world as good, we also see traces of God's character displayed in the things he has made. His creation shows forth his attributes. Creation, in some measure, reveals God's mind.
Why do we dream in metaphors? We're trying to hold onto something that we couldn't understand ... couldn't understand ... couldn't understand. -- SealEverything that God made is a partial revelation of God. Everything in creation is a metaphor of sorts, and has meaning beyond itself about the One who made it. Rocks, hills, trees, stars ... each thing stirs a memory of God in its own way. In every park or seashore you can hear the "echoes of Eden" as the mystically-inclined might say.
Sometimes I have looked at writing that was penned in a foreign script and have just admired its beauty and incomprehensibility. We see the beauty, we perceive it must have meaning, but we haven't grasped it. It's tantalizing, it's mesmerizing. If everything that God made is a partial revelation of God, then creation itself is like writing in a foreign script. Every tree or rock is a glyph, a symbol pointing us to God.
David understood when he saw the night sky. "The heavens declare the glory of God ... they pour forth speech, they display knowledge ... there is no language where their voice is not heard."
Everyone's spiritual quest is trying to decipher this language. We're all code-breakers, all mystery-solvers, all beauty-lovers. We all see the words of God -- words-made-creation in nature, or words of the prophets. Awe is a rational response of the soul that sees the wonders of creation. Rejection of mysticism is a rejection of steeping ourselves in the awe and wonder of the world, which are a proper part of our worship of God.
This is the second part of a series of posts here on thoroughly Christian mysticism. The previous part contrasted mysticism and scholasticism. The next part will address the basis of mysticism in Christ's incarnation; the part after that, the "apophatic" branch of mysticism. I may continue the series to explore mysticism in relation to the recent cessationist/non-cessationist debate on gifts of the Spirit.
Darrel Pursiful is also posting his thoughts on mysticism over at Disert Paths. I'd encourage you to pop over to his blog and give him a read. He takes the approach of building the scholarly framework for mysticism, a much-needed endeavor for the renewal of Christian mysticism.