Contrary to first assumptions, mysticism doesn’t mandate anything spooky. Note Augustine’s Seven Steps toward an Encounter with God:
- Poverty of Spirit (Confession of Sin, Self Awareness)
- Piety & Receptiveness to Scriptures (God speaks to you through the Bible)
- Awareness of One’s Failings (Owning Responsibility, No Hiding or Blaming)
- Cultivation of Personal Righteousness (Hunger for the Jesus Life)
- Willingness to help others in Need (No Encounter with God is without Benefit to Others)
- Preparation for the Contemplative Vision (Open to Anything, Expectant of Something)
- Wisdom or Contemplation (Encounter the Mind & Will of God as your Own)
I feel we generally drop the ball on number 5 and 6, and therefore miss out on number 7. Regarding number 5, I don’t see a majority of today’s “mystics” translating their experience into a greater service for others. Something hasn’t lined up if you’re the most passionate person about loving God, yet least passionate about loving people.
Regarding number 6, I think we fall short of expecting things from God; and when we do expect something, our expectations usually make narrow projections based on past experiences of what we’ve seen God do.
One final comment on Augustine’s steps, we have to embrace the unlikely starting point of brokenness. The greatest times of fullness begin with our greatest times of emptiness, so let’s get excited when things fall apart and when God calls us out on our moral failures.