August 2 Sunday Service: Mystics and Mysticism

Summer is vacation time for many, and it is for me as well…starting tomorrow I will be on vacation. This is a first for me in many years…when I am taking the full two weeks as vacation instead of tagging a few days off when traveling to a conference or a training which is work-related. I am looking forward to the rest and relaxation. We have decided to take day trips and when we feel like just staying home, we will.

I am leaving you in good hands however, we have two awesome guest speakers, Rosie Deer Heart and Rev. Matt Purinton for Sunday the 9th and 16th. Coffee Hour will continue as usual following the service. The Wednesday evening meditation will be with Rev. Elizabeth Peterson. Prayer needs will be handled by Rev. Airin Wolf and Rev. Barbara Kowalska.

The message this past Sunday was titled “Mysticism and Mystics. When I return, I will be doing a three-part series on the 14th Century mystics, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, and Teresa of Avila. I just completed a twelve-week class with Mirabai Starr on Women Mystics and Goddesses and a workshop with Marjory Zoet Bankson on Hildegard of Bingen so this is how this series came into existence.

So, what is mysticism? Merriam Webster defines it as “the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality reported by mystics”.

Unity’s Metaphysical definition of mysticism, “the practice of the presence of God; the life of prayer that results in intuitive knowledge and experience of God.

The body of my talk came from an article I read written by Dr. Jean Houston titled “The Meaning of Mysticism for our Time”.

I found it interesting that Jean has found that mysticism and spirituality is on the rise during times such as we are experiencing, specifically change and stress.

She expounds on the work of Evelyn Underhill, an early 20th-Century writer of mysticism. There are stages of awakening to the mystic’s path. I will share them briefly here, but I encourage you to watch the service for a more in-depth understanding.

Stage 1 – Awakening: one wakes up…. an awareness that everything is connected to everything else
Stage 2 – Purification: release old ways of being and recover our innocence
Stage 3 – Illumination: one is illumined in the light… everything has meaning and a pattern
Stage 4 – Visions and Voices: One sees, hears, senses with more than five senses —
Stage 5 – Introversion: Entering the silence in prayer and contemplation. It is in the journey inward.
Stage 6 – Ecstasy and Rapture: The Divine Presence meets the prepared body, mind, emotions, and psyche of the mystic
Stage 7 – Dark Night of the Soul: Face that which remains of the shadows of your old forms and habits that was your lesser self
Stage 8 – Unitive Life: Here one exists in the state of union with the One Reality

There you have them.

Both light and shadow are the dance of love
Love has no cause
It is the astrolabe of God’s secrets
Lover and loving are inseparable and timeless
Although I may try to describe Love
When I experience it, I am speechless
Although I may try to write about Love
I am rendered helpless
My pen breaks and the paper slips away
at the ineffable place
where Lover, Loving and Loved are one
Every moment is made glorious
by the light of Love
~ Rumi

Here Rumi is also describing the mystical experience and if you have had a mystical experience, I would love to hear from you…

You are a blessing in my life,
Rev. Patricia Bessey

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