A Christian Mystic, Part 3

Such a loaded and misunderstood term…Christian Mystic…people, especially Christian people heard the term “mystic” and immediately assume that it is an oxymoron…and most highly improper…a humanistic and New Age philosophies…it summons up images of a cult and
heathenism…so did my being in a cult skew my view of how I view God…I will explain and let you be the judge…

“Mysticism, according to its historical and psychological definitions, is the direct intuition or experience of God; and a mystic is a person who has, to a greater or less degree, such a direct experience — one whose religion and life are centered, not merely on an accepted belief or practice, but on that which the person regards as first hand personal knowledge.”  -Evelyn Underhill

My experiences within the cult, created an overwhelming desire to personally know the true God and my Creator…not just to swallow whatever religious dogma or a denomination biased definition of the what scripture turned out to be…the people within the cult I was raised just swallowed whatever they were spoon fed, believing that if the words came from the mouth of the leader..it was a direct communication from God…

It has been and continues to be a wonderful great and stirring daily adventure as I seek with love, humility and heartfelt yearning to know the true and living God…God cannot be captured by thought or logic…it is
trusting that God speaks to the heart of each person in a way and time of God’s choosing.

“The story of the Christian mystics is one of an all-consuming, passionate love affair between human beings and God. It speaks of the yearning, a burning desire for the contemplation and presence of the divine… This yearning is a candle by the fire of divine love itself, which moves the mystics in their search and leads him, often arduous journeys, to discover and proclaimed the all-encompassing love of God for humankind.”  – Ursula King

My journey has been long and arduous…traversing many religions and spiritual practices..but comes back to the basic Christian belief that
“Christian Mystic” is a person who wholly accepts the lordship of Jesus through humility and finds the biblical teachings, life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to present for them, the only way to grow in relationship with God.

I find that truth in the scriptures, but I have also found paths to knowing God more fully in readings of Church Fathers, Orthodox priests and other Christians…truth from many different Christian persuasions and teachers draw me…for they have traveled their own path in finding God…perhaps it is the explorer in me…

  C. S. Lewis came up with the term…  His definition of Christian Mysticism is simple: “the direct experience of God, immediate as a taste or color.”…and it is so true for me…God is felt in the most “real” of ways…as we feel the wind as it gently caresses our cheeks…we do not see the wind, yet feel the effects…there is a knowledge of the wind in the effects that are seen and felt…yet, it is more than that to me…there is a “knowing”…a deep heart and soul knowing of the reality of God…


“Mystic” is related to the New Testament Word, mysterion, which means “secret” or “mystery.”  Christianity, while built on rational faith and life in the real world, is supra-rational. Bruce Demarest, Professor of Theology at Denver Seminary, says, “Great Christian realities, such as intimacy with God, spiritual passion, and prayer, must be framed in the mind and experienced in the heart. Christian mysticism, simply put, is the believers direct experience of God in the heart.” (Satisfy Your Soul, 1999)

This quote from an article by Dr. Brad Strait said is the best…” For me, in essence, being a Christian Mystic means seeking the Center, Christ, more than the boundaries (who is in or out). It means living each moment expectantly focused on Jesus, open and broken, and waiting for him to guide and direct. It means concretely walking the journey toward Him, with Him, and in Him, too. It means I am resigned to not knowing all of the answers about God and faith. It recognizes that much of God’s work in our lives is a mystery. Richmond Graduate University Theology Professor David Benner concludes, “A mystic is simply a person who seeks, above all else, to know God in love. Mystics are, therefore, much more defined by their longing than by their experience. 

And that is how I want to live my life…to daily seek to know God’s love and be the conduit of that love to the world …

We Interrupt this Program…

Before I continue the story of my life…I wanted to insert a beautiful thread of my current life…my life has not been an easy one, although I have been radically blessed in many ways…and I desire always to be grateful for even the dark threads…the pain and the sorrow…the deep loneliness…

It took where I have been to create who I am today…wounds that are touched by God’s love have become beautiful…I envision myself as a intriguing stained glass mosaic…many broken pieces assembled by the Master’s hand…where when His light shines through all of my cracked and defective pieces…the world can see the exquisiteness of His Love..

I have always carried in my heart…a promise…that enchanting colorful threads of beauty, joy and happiness would be added to my tapestry my life to create an exquisite pattern…I had always felt that they would be given to me during this chapter in my life…there were dreams and premonitions from others in my life over 25 years ago…and I have carried the beautiful gem of hope deep in the recesses of my heart…

In March 8, 2018, I received an email from a Patrick on a PenPal site…
“Hi I’m Patrick from South Africa, I visit the US pretty much every year and am a fan. I see you are sideways, I can maybe help with that 🙂 …and so a long distance friendship started to bud…after all what woman could resist a man wanting to fix her being sideways (which he meant…my photo was sideways 🙂 )…

Over my lifetime…I have tried many dating sites…and that is a series of several blogs of interesting dialog…but in the hundreds of men whose profiles I had reviewed…my heart had not been touched…the PenPal site…I had just been looking for a friend…someone to correspond with…maybe to practice my Spanish with…who would know that what would transpire over the following months…

For me…in the beginning…my heart remained closed to anything of substance…after all he was over 8, 678 miles away…what were the chances…but I so enjoyed the exchanging of photographs…with no expectations…except maybe a new friend…my Alaska photos for his brother and sister…his holiday house on the beach…Seal Bay…one of my first replies was one of my favorite quotes by Helen Keller…”Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”…and the adventure began…

This was also in that particular response

A Christian Mystic, Part 2

“…even admirable human desires for love, for belonging, and for meaning can be manipulated by unscrupulous individuals to benefit themselves” 
― Noah Berlatsky

It has been almost 6 weeks since I wrote the first part of this…I really thought that it would be easier to reveal this part of my life…and although it is not a painful process…it is still a very private part of my life…and although it is no longer in the forefront of my life…it is still peripheral object…with my family still being active participants in that specific group.

Over the years, the group has changed drastically or at least that is what it appears from the outside. My family and I never discuss the matter of my attending the meetings anymore…I had been there for a funeral and the leader made very disparaging remarks directly to me…I have never darkened the door since.

I do know that the requirements for dress are not as strict as it was when I was a teenager…we would be required to kneel on the platform to make sure that our skirts hit the floor…and in other ways, it was very Pentecostal…in that we were not allowed to cut our hair, wear earrings, or even shave our legs…now how that brings glory to a woman…I have to idea…no sleeveless blouses or dresses…nothing that might “tempt” a man to sexual desire…

I had always felt alone and ostracized in the world outside the church…I could never participate in any activities in the school…the most difficult was during my High School years…as a teenager, I wanted so much to be a part…a part of something that was “normal” and “fun” like most of the free world…and that is how it felt…like a cage…on the inside…looking out…

As a teenager, to be at least on the fringes of acceptance…I do remember my small acts of rebellion…I walked to school and somehow I had gotten a hold of a pair of slacks…and I would find somewhere along the route to change out of my skirt into the forbidden apparel…I was never found out…such treachery…putting on a swipe of lipstick that someone would let me borrow…

There were a few friends that were in the church, but even then…I was on the outskirts of the group…my parents just a humble part of the worshiping and adoring members… and not a part of the rich ruling and “blessed” members…and the people did worship her…I often felt more than they worshiped her more than God himself…special prayer meetings/fasting were held just to “lift her Up”..pictures of her were hung in homes with flowers…in a place of reverence…my parents still have her in a place of veneration in their home.

“People do not knowingly join “cults” that will ultimately destroy and kill them. People join self-help groups, churches, political movements, college campus dinner socials, and the like, in an effort to be a part of something larger than themselves. It is mostly the innocent and naive who find themselves entrapped. In their openhearted endeavor to find meaning in their lives, they walk blindly into the promise of ultimate answers and a higher purpose. It is usually only gradually that a group turns into or reveals itself as a cult, becomes malignant, but by then it is often too late.” 

For me, the most surreal experience, was when we were segregated into groups and put into a small room in an upper story of the house of the woman, we were to take our bibles..open them…and close our eyes…I don’t remember the words that were spoken…but when we opened our eyes…there were specks of blood on everything…on our clothes..on our bibles…supposedly, we were blessed with the manifestation of Christ’s blood…I do remember how special that it felt at the time…being blessed with the actual blood of Christ…it really did not seem strange at the time…

When you grow up from a child in a culture such as a “cult”, it is the norm…I did not have any other reference point…the falling out on the floor..the travailing and groanings in the darkness for hours…the shaking and running around the building screaming at demons…shouting in tongues…the prophecies that the end of the world would be on such and such date…although, if we fasted and prayed hard enough…we could change the date…it was the only world that I knew…

“Cults can hide in many places. They are so adept at blending into society and masking their true colors that often their victims do not realize that they were even in a cult until they have escaped it. Nor do they fully comprehend the severity of the brainwashing that they were subjected to, until they are finally free of it.” 
― Natacha Tormey, Cults – A Bloodstained History

I was an innocent…that perhaps is the saddest part and yet in some ways, it might be considered a blessing…I was pure…I could not even date until I turned 16…although it was perfectly fine for a man twice my age to transport me to and from our meetings at the jail…my first kiss…I was blessed in that it was the extent of the intrusion on my virginal body…and after the age of 16…I was never asked out on a date…

And then at 18…I was given a path out…unwittingly by the church and with a push by my mother…although it was not the result that she intended…

A Christian Mystic, Part 1

A Christian Mystic…I can feel the hair stand up on the back of the necks of most “religious” people who label themselves as “Christians”….but before everyone gets all hot and bothered..let me explain how I define the term…after all…most things are subjective…

I will start at the beginning…I grew up in what I consider a “cult”…and then here again..there can be a discussion on what is considered a cult…the term itself is ambiguous… but here is the best explanation (from a personal point of view) that I found..by Louis West and Michael Langone…they defined it as a “Totalist” Cult…but this is a very accurate and  definitive explanation of how I grew up….

A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g., isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of leaving it, etc.) designed to advance the goals of the group’s leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community.[…]

Totalist cults are likely to exhibit three elements to varying degrees:

(1) excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment to the identity and leadership of the group by the members,

(2) exploitative manipulation of members, and

(3) harm or the danger of harm.

– Source: Cultism: A Conference for Scholars-Policy Makers, Cultic Studies Journal, 1986, Volume 3, Number 1, pages 85-96 3

Personal experience of the above definition…there was an undying excessive devotion to the woman who founded the church..she was (she died this past summer) venerated…worshiped…so much so that my parents hung a large portrait of this woman  in a place of honor in their home..her teachings were the only material that was and is still read…my parents moved from my place of birth in Wisconsin..uprooting and leaving family to become a part of this congregation…

*Now there were circumstances that made my Father more susceptible to the teachings of this woman…but that would lead to a totally different discussion as to what makes some more vulnerable to becoming involved in a “cult”…

The majority of the congregation sacrificed their own needs and necessities of life to support this woman..who lived in beautiful and majestic homes..traveled extensively..and created a network of 1500  affiliated organizations…

Every move…every decision that we made in our daily lives was made within the perimeters of this woman’s teaching…there were no outside influences allowed…growing up..we had no TV..the only radio that we were allowed to listen to was Christian music..we were not allowed to socialize outside of the church..meaning that I could not attend any school functions or have any friendships outside of the church…but then, most of our free time was within the church walls…

Any major decision..such as who to marry, when to buy a house…was brought before a small group of hand picked people that would then listen to your quandary and then put it to “The Witness”..which was a unified “OM NAMAH SIVAYA”…which has been said to be based on the name of the Lord Shiva..but I digress…

What is your opinion..would you consider this a cult..have you experienced religious manipulation and how did you free yourself….I know that it can be difficult to discuss..but it can be a door to freedom..the is a Loving God…and you are loved..always and forever…

Champagne Bubbles

 

 

Image result for champagne quotes

..Did you know that champagne was an accidental discovery around approximately 1700 AD by Dom Perignon..a monk who was making wine for his brothers in the monastery…he forgot to complete the fermentation process before he bottling and corking the wine..

During the cold winter months..the fermentation process was dormant..when spring arrived and the temperatures rose..the wine started fermenting again..the carbon dioxide was trapped in the bottles and started exploding…he opened a bottle still intact to taste it..and supposedly exclaimed..“Come quickly! I’m drinking stars!”..

I want to drink the stars….How often do we settle for drinking a somewhat “decent” wine instead of going through the arduous task of waiting to become the “champagne” of life..we don’t like to wait..we are such an impatient breed..we don’t want to experience the difficult and painful places..and often settle for becoming and experiencing the commonplace…most often missing out on the most magnificent and extraordinary of times..if we had only waited…

As the fermentation proceeds, yeast cells die and after several months...how many times have I felt that I was dying..the fermentation is complete..and just when I thought that I would rise…I was back in the dark again..However, the Champagne continues to age in the cool cellar for several more years resulting in a toasty, yeasty characteristic. During this aging period, the yeast cells split open and literally spill their guts into the solution imparting complex, yeasty flavors to the Champagne…how many times have you felt your guts being spilled in grief and pain..feeling like the pain would never end… The best and most expensive Champagne is aged for five or more years…but I have just becoming the best that I can be..and you are too..

The Champagne bottle is kept upside down while the neck is frozen in an ice-salt bath. This procedure results in the formation of a plug of frozen wine containing the dead yeast cells…our refinement is still not finished..the dross of our life is removed…the impurities.. The bottle cap is then removed and the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas in the bottle forces the plug of frozen wine out leaving behind clear Champagne. 

Our hearts become purified…we can taste the stars..and become the stars for the world to taste and see…we become magical…we are the magic…

..So just remember..when you are in the darkest of cellars in your life…you are just becoming refined…when you feel upside down in a ice-salt bath..you are becoming an exquisite, miraculous,  one-of-a-kind  bubbly star in our universe…

Be patient with the process…

27 Champagne Quotes for Your Next Party

Sip the Wine

“Drink freely the wine life offers you and don’t worry how much you spill.”
― Marty Rubin

Today I attended a wine tasting for Charity in our small city..it is always a wonderful way to enjoy the fruit of the local wineries…there is the dry and the sweet..the blackberry, blueberry and strawberry..I came away with a beautiful Cranberry Crush..a wine bursting with with sweet and tart flavors and aromas from a local winery in the area…

I did not leave drunk, but with that wonderful loose and liquid feeling…for it made me feel wild and free..as Jodi Picoult wrote…”made her feel that a hummingbird had taken the place of her heart.”

This blog is not meant to be anything serious…but a celebration of life itself..creating a good wine is a passion and an art..just as with life itself…life and with wine should at times create a sensuous feeling of indulgence…luxury, bliss, erotic-tinged…

Ernest Hemingway..“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”

Galileo..“Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”

I hover over the expensive Scotch and then the Armagnac, but finally settle on a glass of rich red claret. I put it near my nose and nearly pass out. It smells of old houses and aged wood and dark secrets, but also of hard, hot sunshine through ancient shutters and long, wicked afternoons in a four-poster bed. It’s not a wine, it’s a life, right there in the glass.”
― Nick Harkaway, The Gone-Away World

And this… I had to share..it is from a Blog from 2012, but it is hilarious yet with a hint of truth at the same time…winefolly.com/…/7-reasons-why-wine-is-like-women..some interesting facts about wine..

7 Reasons Why Wine is like Women

1. So Many To Choose From

2. The Good Ones Are Taken

3. Costs You an Arm and a Leg

4. Some Age More Gracefully Than Others

5. Prefer a Safe Stable Home

6. Exotics Are Intimidating But Domestics Are Less Exciting

7. Tastes Evolve as You Grow Up..and the bonus is …Good For Your Health

Enjoy Life today and if so inclined..a glass of wine..whatever type or flavor you prefer..it is all to be enjoyed and savored…as is life…

Tangled Threads

It has been almost a month since I have sat down to write…my work environment had become chaotic with people leaving the department, overlapping vacation schedules and the subsequent reorganization…one week I had worked 80 hours…exhaustion did not even begin to cover it…but the majority of the storm has passed..

During this period of time…I experienced the most surprising of emotions…Anger…I felt like a huge ball of heavy tangled thread landed in my lap…and I had no clue as to what I should do about it…

Surprising…because in the whole of my lifetime, I have not felt a lot of anger…even in the years of great pain…I see anger as a wasted emotion…I know that most therapists would say anger is important because it is a symptom that something is wrong…

I hurt during the hard and difficult times…but I realized early that people often hurt others because they are hurting and don’t know how to release their own pain in any way other than by hurting others…

Anger that is not transmuted and held within our body and mind is detrimental to our own health…proven scientifically to cause physical dis-ease…anger serves no long term benefit to the holder…

So imagine my bewilderment when no amount of prayer or meditation would dissolve this ball of fury and outrage…so I sat with it and started to try and separate the threads..I knew that I felt disappointment at not being acknowledged for my work and resentment for being paid less for doing more work than others…those threads I could remove with logic and the knowledge that life eventually irons out those wrinkles…but there was more…something else that needed untangling..

The company  has gone through a great deal of changes while the ownership works at making the location that viable in an ever changing business environment…so everyone is afraid and hurt…there is almost a palatable feeling of those emotions…

So what did that leave?

As HSP’s..sensitives…we are aware that certain conditions cause us stress..but living within the business environment for many years I thought that I had learned to navigate the normal stimulates…but apparently the last few months were over the top..even for me..

A new member was added to our team..a good person, but very loud and unhappy …apparently the constant loudness was the straw that broke the camels back…it was too much for me..my emotions were going to make me listen one way or another…

She wasn’t acting out of malice…and in the interest of creating a team out of the new members…I sure wasn’t going to retaliate in anger…not much good that would do…

What I did… was let her know in a polite manner that I was not as talkative and preferred a more secluded area to work efficiently and moved my work area..not only was  I out of her immediate area of contact but I also am now out of the main traffic area..along with sleep and healing nutrition…my ball of tangled emotions has started unraveling and calm is starting to settle back into my soul…

Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. ~ Mark Twain