When I think of mystics, I think of saintly persons showered in heavenly light, a look of bliss on their faces as they see the face of God. While I long for such an experience, it has seemed out of reach to me.
But suppose that in fact mystical experience is within reach for all of us? We touch on the mystical when we sense connection. I may feel deeply connected during love-making or I may simply feel that connection in a shared moment. Meeting a grandchild for the first time. Sharing a pain and sensing understanding from the other person. Running along a beach on the Skellig coast with only me and an Irish dog leaving footprints. Such moments for me approach the mystical.
Rabbi David Wolpe writes about what he call “the normal mystic”. This is a person who senses God’s presence not only on Irish beaches but in the midst of rush-hour traffic. For here too God is present, connecting me with all the other frustrated drivers.
The essence of mystical experience then is not just the sensed connection but the awareness of God as the essence of that connection.
Because we are so connected through God, we all matter. The main character, a six-year-old girl named Hushpuppy, articulates this beautifully in the film Beasts of the Southern Wild: “The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece gets busted, even the smallest piece. the whole universe will get busted.” If we truly embraced this mystical understanding of connection, then it really might be possible to love our enemies. Then I might really see the face of God not through some beatific vision but in the face of the woman sitting across from me on the bus or the veteran asking for a handout on the street-corner. Or I may even see the face of God, as hard as I may find this to believe, when I look in the mirror.
Further reading: David Wolpe Healer of Shattered Hearts