Jesus’ teachings were never popular, simplistic, repetitious verses to be mumbled weekly as a means to satisfy an unapproachable and unknowable deity. Rather, His teachings challenge each of us to make friends with the Spirit within each of us so that we might experience the living eternal presence of a loving God. Jesus message was clear: each of us has a personal connection to the creator of the universe who wishes us to call Him Father. If we will but move past the things of earth, past the illusion that we are at home here, and that we can have both the things of earth and the joy of heaven, our souls will lead us to higher levels of communication with God. God speaks to each of us who intentionally opens a channel of communication with him. Mysticism is nothing more than shutting out the world long enough to listen to God—high voltage prayer.
Christ's disciples were the first Christian mystics because they followed the discipline Jesus taught them. All but one of Jesus’ disciples was martyred for their determination to spread his teachings; however, their voices were so impassioned and their “truth” so authentic, they changed the world. Converts to the disciples’ metaphysical message began to communicate with a holy presence which could not be understood or seen by people who maintained their allegiance to the world. Nonetheless this presence was real and tangible to these followers who fell in love with and gave their lives for Jesus and his Father.
Saints of every time period are those who take themselves out of the world in order to hear God. It is called a life of contemplation. Many of our well-known saints—Saint John of the Cross, Saint Theresa of Avila, Saint Francis, Hildegard of Bingen, Mother Theresa, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and Thomas Merton are all well known Christian mystics. Mother Theresa, Teilhard de Chardin, and Merton were all mystics of the twentieth century. Like the prophet Elisha who ran from the world to live in a cave, these people shut themselves off from the world in order to hear “the still small voice of God.”
If anyone thinks this is an easy life, try sitting patiently until God speaks to you. Most of us can’t even quiet ourselves long enough to watch a rainbow or sunset from start to finish or to stay with a fire long enough until the embers die, let alone to sit long enough to not only recognize God’s voice but also to slog through our skepticism and disbelief. Can you imagine anyone announcing to his or her spouse, church, or community, “I have decided to become a Christian mystic.” We would immediately be pummeled with questions like: how will you buy bread? If we answered “Man does not live by bread alone,” clearly we are following our Lord’s teachings; even so, our friends and neighbors would think us mad just as they did Saint Francis a thousand years ago.
There was a time in human history when being “one who communicated with God” was considered a holy calling and those who accepted the call holy people. Jewish rabbinic communities supported men who devoted their lives to study. In early Christianity, monasteries became places for people to leave the world behind and to devote their lives to contemplating the nature of God. Almost all cultures have had medicine men, saints, and holy lepers. These cultures valued men and women who were willing to receive God through the really hard work of self-surrender and meditation because with that commitment miracles, healing, and faith grew among the people. Christian mystics brought not only God’s word but also often supernatural and unexplainable acts to the physical world. Why then has Christianity become less and less accepting of this evocation? My thought is that often the voice of God is frightening to those who have not committed themselves to receiving Him. Religion comforts the worldly with rote sayings and oaths that make a personal relationship with God impossible for many.
When Michael and I first talked of collaborating on a book of meditations, I readily agreed to do so because I enjoy creative worship projects. Before long, I realized that Michael was transmitting God’s desire to be God With Us in his poetry. Michael was being led to a whole different level of Christian writing. He was literally transcribing messages from the Holy Spirit as have other mystics through the ages. There have been moments when I read one of Michael’s poems that my eyes sting and my body burns; my heart lays heavy with a grief for being away from heaven. I “get the power” of Michael’s words, but I can’t hold onto them. They aren’t so easily absorbed and categorized into my thought process. I have to sit as he has with the idea that my soul needs to be in communication with God and that communication is not so easy to come by. It takes practice. It takes commitment. It takes desire to say as Saint Francis did “My God and my all.” How we will proceed with this work is beyond my imagination and Michael’s control. Clearly, his soul has found a way to adore the Father with such wisdom that both Michael and I are simply audience to his work. I am reminded of the scripture “You don’t have because you don’t ask and you don’t ask because you don’t know how to ask.” In Michael’s striving to know God, he has apparently asked the right questions because the floodgate’s of Heaven are open to him. These writings are not for the spiritually immature who think their tradition will save them; it is for the spiritually hungry who know they are missing something their religion isn’t giving them. Those who resonate with Michael’s writing should see them as a stepping stone to their own inner wisdom, their own God within.
Introduction by Maggie McCary to "Soul Insights: Christians Bridging the New Age" - http://ChristiansBridging.com