When I was in college, about 20 years ago, one of the big movements on our campus was for people getting involved in what they labeled “spirituality movements.” Of my friends, many of them were discovering Gregorian Chants even playing them in their dorm rooms. But many were also curious about some of the more mystic traditions like the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Taizé traditions that were starting to appear within some the protestant churches. I even had a group of friends that frequented the local Quaker meetings.
One thing that both James and Clark brought up in the after-worship discussion that happens is the cyclical nature of many things; spirituality tends to follow those trends. Often the changes in spirituality have to do with what is going on in the world and the need of the people. Thinking back to the 90’s when this spirituality was on the rise. This was the decade of America, Communism was gone; we had our wars, but they were always disconnected from the daily lives. Also, for the youth and young adults who came of age, they were either products of divorce or, as some coined, “the latch-key” generation, the first generation to come home from school to an empty home because both parents were working.
This means that one of the great needs for this generation was something that would fill the emotional side, but it was also a generation that was very self-reliant. So it would seem fairly obvious that there was a need for a deeper introspective spirituality.
Here, as in the other spiritual types, we see how our spiritual needs are directly connected to our emotional and psychological ones. Often what we are seeking spiritually are areas where we are not being filled by other means. It goes back to the idea that a faithful person is healthy in mind, body, and soul. Granted that this filling a need is a trait of all the spiritual types.
I think this is important because when we think about how we see and understand God, by understanding our particular needs and ourselves we can better understand who God is as opposed to what we need, while still finding ways to fill that. Now if that is not a Mystic Spirituality statement, I don’t know what is!
For the Mystic, the journey is more important than the result and the answers can be found through deep prayer, reflection, and quietness. Taken to its extreme, this type of spirituality can drive an individual from their communities, or even into complete isolation. But when the Mystic is not at the extreme, they do a good job of keeping the Heady folks from veering off into some gnostic tangent.
As you know, knowledge and truth are not very important to the mystic. What is important is how we relate to one another; the phrase “can’t we just get along” would be something that the Mystic would believe in.
As you continue to think about how you might write your “this I believe,” think about how you might have been influenced by this mystic spirituality that calls the individual to feel and seek the emotions of their heart.
Click here for a link to the book This I Believe
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen